What the Flax?

At this exact moment, you might be asking yourself… is that a pasta maker?

Why, yes, my astute student, that is indeed a pasta maker.

But, Meagan, what are you doing with a pasta maker?

Last year, I planted flax in my square foot garden. I ended up with a nice, 8 sq ft crop. I let it dry out, then dew retted it on top of my raised beds, occasionally spraying it with the hose to make sure the fibers separated from the core. The I let it fully dry again.

I didn’t have a flax break. Steve and I bought plans to build a break, but with baby Dutch, it just realistically hasn’t happened. I was not looking forward to a long day of beating flax with a mallet. So the flax went into our basement to hang out until I could muster the energy to look at it again.

Fast-forward to this last month. I had a brilliant idea, as so many of my ideas are. Would a pasta machine be a suitable flax break?

A break simply breaks apart the pithy core and allows it to fall away from the fiber. Would two metal rollers be able to do the same?

To find out, first I needed to acquire a pasta machine. In the long, long ago, I had one, but I was convinced to part with it when I didn’t actually use it to make pasta. Not about to spent a fortune on a new one, I sought to borrow one. One of my friends came through, in the name of science. I crossed my fingers and hoped beyond hope that I didn’t accidentally break it!

I set the pasta machine to thickness three (seemed like a good place to start). I was able to get a small handful of flax through at a time, but it appeared to work. After 2-3 passes, I moved the thickness down to one and sent the flax through a few more times.

The machine did a fairly decent job of breaking up the core. It was not as effective as an actual break or a mallet and man-power, but it did manage to remove probably 70-80% of the boon that I would have gotten out using the other methods.

I got a nice strike of flax and a box of tow to comb out later! We’ll spin it up in the near future!


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