Another Vintage Challenge – to myself

I can’t be in the Revive-A-Vintage Challenge because I’m one of the judges. I’ve griped about that before. Not because it seems unfair but because I’d love to get my hands on that double pointed needle set from Knitter’s Pride. Sadly I have had to accept that someone else will be getting my needle set.

flax fiber to spin

But I can still challenge myself and play along. I’ve decided to try and spin a vintage yarn. You see I’ve had this bag of flax for quite a while and I think its time to see how badly I can mess it up.

I got that fractal spinning project done. The green lace is off the needles and blocking as we speak (pics will be up soon!). So I can squeeze in another project right? Right. Let it be flax.

You’ve probably seen flax in the fancy section of the grocery store. Well, flax seeds anyway. Its one of those high omega-3 fatty acid foods that we should all be eating. Or you may know it from gardening. Flax puts out sweet pale blue flowers and it grows wild all over the world.

blue flax flower

Or maybe you’ve heard of linseed, as in linseed oil. Linseed is another name for flax. And I know you’ve all heard of linen. Linen is woven fabric made from flax, from the bast fibers in flax. People have been spinning flax and making linen since (at least) 7000 BC.

Linen fragments have been found in the tombs of the ancient Egyptians. Those Iron Age Britons wore woven wool and linen. The linen making tradition of Ireland is epic. In the 17th and 18th century fortunes were made from exporting Irish linens.

Yes, flax has a long history in the world of fiber. It has a pretty long history in my fiber stash too. You see, I bought that bag of flax to spin before I bought my first spinning wheel. I think I’ve moved (and moved that particular bag) four times since I bought it. I love the idea of spinning it because flax has such a long and romantic history but… I’m a little intimidated.

feline overlord inspecting the flax

She is not intimated you notice. Anti-Spinning Feline Overlord knows she can muck up any fiber anywhere any time. She is awesome that way.


Flax has to be spun wet. Or damp. Or something like that. According to The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning, flax needs to be “at least 30% moisture” to spin. Back in the day, spinners had little bowls that they filled with water and drew the flax through.

Spinning bowl from 2000 BC

Pretty neat huh? Countless people have told me they would make me a bowl that like one but that just never seems to happen.

Its been suggested to me, more than once I might add, that I could just spit on the fiber as I worked it. I really can’t see myself doing that. Can you? Just imagine …there is Jenn out on her porch, on a bright sunny day, with her coffee and her fiber and her wheel and the Anti-Spinning Feline Overlord trying to leap into her lap and mess her all up. Then, every 15 seconds or so, she spits a blob of drool on her fingers.

I don’t think so Scooter.

That’s why there has been no spinning of the flax. I had all these excuses. Plus I had a large and ever growing stash of all kinds of other fibers to play with. So the flax sat all neglected and sad in its little bag in the fiber stash drawer.

But… I have come up with an idea, a plan, for keeping it damp as I spin. No, there will be no spitting required. And I have this blog now. I make the commitment here and then I actually have to spin the stuff. Well, I have to try anyway. There is no backing down. That flax will either become yarn or a big hot mess but it will not be going back in the bag.

That’s my personal vintage challenge. I’ll keep you updated! How is yours going? Next drawing prize goes out this Friday! We’ve already had two winners. If you have a project started in ravelry with this tag :  revive-a-vintage  then you’re in the contest and maybe could win the next one.

If you’re interested in joining in there is plenty of time. Here are a few posts that will help:

Revive-A-Vintage Challenge Page – rules, and prizes, and schedule, and other stuff

Places to look for a pattern – online repsoitoriies of free vintage patterns

How to Read Vintage Crochet and How to Read Vintage Knit patterns


12 thoughts on “Another Vintage Challenge – to myself

  1. Well, i still have to take pictures, but one band is done. The other? Um…. I haven’t finished warping my loom yet because I’ve been busy (and tired), yes… very busy! After I finish altering my wedding/Renfaire dress today (I need to go do that like NOW actually lol) I will be finishing warping my loom. I promise! And pictures taken today, I promise that too!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I got the pictures of the new weaving up, but I left my Egyptian Diamonds at my Mother-in-Law’s to finish for belt.. Sorry about that! Pictures as soon as I get alterations and the belt actually finshed!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Look forward to seeing your linen spinning experience! I found it easy, once I got over the mental leap. I’ve tried licking my fingers to smooth as I spin (no fun swallowing flax bits…..not my idea of a good, high-fibre diet), spritzing with a spray bottle (good but affected the finish on my wheel), dipping fingers in a small bowl (ok but broke the rhythm) and wrapping the fibre in my lap in a damp towel (best particularly in the summer spinning on the porch). Can’t wait to see your plan and yarn!

    Thanks for running the Vintage Challenge! I’m on to the yoke of a sweater for my husband… he appreciates the challenge too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AH HA! You just revealed yourself as an expert and a resource. I may come back with questions and/or demands to help.

      Also (and I hope no one takes this the wrong way) its nice to hear about a knitter who has a knit-worthy husband. Not all of them are. If you have an appreciative recipient for your talents than you are blessed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If expert means I tried it a few times in different ways and none was an abject failure, I have a lot more expertise in more areas than I think. 😉 That bowl is a fascinating object. Some enterprising potter should start marketing them to spinners! With a handy way to fit them onto a table or wheel or lap so as not to tip everywhere…….

        Very knitworthy. And the cardigan is at try on state and I’m so happy with it and the fit! Buttonbands and some ends and grafting! Then I’m going to move on to crochet penguins for boys (I’m lucky to have an utterly knitworthy family)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. lol. I am soaking trying to pre-wet the flax. Not soak it, just infuse it with water so its damp all the way through. Spinning starts tonight!

        A cardi already! Jeez you must me one fast knitter. Does Mr. Knitworthy model too? lol pictures?


    1. Yeah sure. They will totally stand for that sort of treatment.

      I can’t even train them to sit on my feet in the winter time. Turning these furry brats into helpful assistants would take a miracle.


  3. As someone who doesn’t spin (yet, though I’m hoping to learn), I am very impressed that you are seeking an additional level of challenge! Other than turning animal fiber into yarn, I mean – not just keeping the flax damp. Although that does seem like a challenge as well!
    And the very next time someone offers to give me a lesson on ther drop-spindle, instead of just saying, “thank you so much that would be fantastic!”, I am going to say, “When? How about right now? Do you have your spindle with you? No? Shall I follow you home? Do we need cookies? I’ll bring the cookies!”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m trying to like your comment about 190 times. WordPress won’t let me!

      yes, that is what you should so. Being a pest in life and in spinning pays off. And cookie-bribes always work. Its my experience that people will do lots of stuff to get a cookie. Good thinking!

      Liked by 1 person

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