Learning to Spin Flax

Spinning during Linen: Seed to Cloth workshop at Vävstuga. Photo: Donna Hudson.

Spinning during the Linen: Seed to Cloth workshop at Vävstuga. Photo: Donna Hudson.

Have you tried spinning flax? I love opening a new strick and imagining all of the textile possibilities for the long, lustrous fibers. While I have visions of weaving towels with my handspun linen yarns, for now I am spinning for narrow woven bands that incorporate both linen and woolen yarns. They are so much fun to make!

With flax and linen on the minds of many spinners this summer, we found some great resources available to use at home and exciting classes in many communities around the world.

Amanda Hannaford of Cornwall, England, teaches spinning workshops in the United Kingdom and Europe, and is well known for her flax classes. She is offering a two-day workshop starting October 1st entitled Spinning Flax, Hemp, and Nettle at Suzie Gillespie’s Devon studio. Suzie also teaches flax workshops regularly, including a four-day intensive on flax processing, spinning, and weaving. Find out more about these events and see some beautiful flax-centric images at susiegillespie.com.

Processing flax. Photo courtesy of Vävstuga Weaving School.

Processing flax. Photo courtesy of Vävstuga Weaving School.

Many fiber artists (and future fiber artists) in the United States who would like to learn more about flax find Vävstuga Weaving School in Massachusetts to be an important resource. Vävstuga is rooted in the Swedish textile tradition, so flax and linen play an important role in the incredible textiles created by its instructors and students. Becky Ashenden will be offering Linens: Seed to Cloth on Aug 22‒26, 2016.

Happy linen spinners and weavers. Donna Hudson is shown second from the left. Photo courtesy of Vävstuga Weaving School.

Happy linen spinners and weavers. Donna Hudson is shown second from the left. Photo courtesy of Vävstuga Weaving School.

Weaver and handspinner Donna Hudson had a chance to join a previous Linens: Seed to Cloth workshop and had this to say: “Spinning flax seemed so different from any other fiber that I never considered it. However, the class at Vävstuga was my time to learn that it wasn’t that mystifying or difficult. While we only spun flax for one morning, the time was full of information about flax, tips for being successful, and the fun of watching each other be successful and sometimes not so successful. I am no longer intimidated by the strick of flax sitting by my spinning wheel, I just need to practice and enjoy the process without worrying that it is not perfect.”


If you are not able to attend a workshop, there are great resources available so that you can give flax a try at home:

The Practical Spinner’s Guide: Cotton, Flax, and Hemp (Interweave, 2014) by Stephenie Gaustad
Spin Flax and Cotton (Interweave, 2012) video with Norman Kennedy
The Vävstuga Store carries a great collection of books, videos, fibers, and equipment.

 

 

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