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Category Flax

Monthly Blog - July, 2015

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Things have been picking up speed here at TapRoot Fibre Lab. Our flax field is growing well and will be ready to be harvest within the next week or so. I am working on finishing our content marketing plan.
Some of our flax from 2014 that was not retted long enough before we stored it. I am working to determine if additional retting would work to improve the quality of the long line. I am dew reting 2 lbs bundles in predetermine intervals, i.e. 3, 4, or 6 days per side, to track any changes in the processing time, weight and quality of fibre.
I visited Yarnsmith Fibre Works in Yarmouth, NS for a couple of days to work with Paula. We were working on developing a short line linen yarn. After some trial and error, we were able to produce an 80%/20% linen and wool blend. There is still some quality work that needs to be done. 
Mike has been testing out the first rippler prototype. Early in July we sent out a newsletter regarding our first rippler prototype. If you would like to receive our newsletters, please follow this link.
Have a safe August.

Monthly Update - June, 2015

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The summer-like weather has arrived and TapRoot's flax is growing well. Every week, I walk to the flax field and check on its progress. 
We have been working on creating a knittable yarn out of flax tow. I tried hand spinning a 50/50 blend to see how the flax tow would spin once blended with wool. Patricia, Justine, and I traveled to Yarmouth to visited Yarnsmith Fibre Works Inc. Paula, the mill's owner, was kind enough to run some tow through her equipment. 

We started off by putting the tow through the separator. Then we put the tow through the carder to produce a 75% (flax)/25% (wool) and 50/50 blend. We ran the 75/25 blend through the spinning machine to produce 27 grams of yarn!  We are excited to visit Paula again later this month. We want experiment creating a 100% flax tow yarn with her experiment. To prepare our next visit, I have been processing flax manually. 

We hosted an informative gathering to share what we have been up too with our advisory board members and other interested people. We had some presentations, a wonderful lunch, a tour of the flax, and to conclude our evening we had a private documentary screening.

Have a safe and fun July,


Small scale seed cleaning resources.

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You probably noticed pictures, on Facebook, of cleaned flax seeds. A few weeks ago, Patricia asked me to clean some flax seeds she had in storage. Having no experience in seed cleaning, I hit the web to learn the process. If I inspired anyone to give cleaning seeds a try, please reference the following links.

The following links are related to the cleaning process:









The following links are related to seed cleaning equipment:






Flax update May 2015

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The month of May has brought lovely weather to the farm. Things at TapRoot Farms and TapRoot Fibre Lab have been picking up speed.

I am continuing to develop a content marketing plan for TapRoot Fibre Lab.

When conducting research on the current flax market I came across European Confederation of Linen and Hemp's Euro Flax and Masters of Linen label. These labels provide consumers with insurance that they are buying a quality product.

This got us thinking, how cool would it be to have a label for flax and linen produced right here in Nova Scotia. Therefore, I have been working on creating a set of standards for flax and linen products created in Nova Scotia.

I am still experimenting making linen paper by hand. During the month of May, Patricia, Karrie, and I had a lovely chat with Gary from Gaspereau Press. He should us some of the handmade paper he brought in for his printing business as well as the Hollander beater he uses when he is hand making paper. Our discussion help points me in the right direction and helps me with what the next steps would be.

You may have noticed on Facebook, that we started to clean our flax seeds. We ordered some screens designed for cleaning flax seeds from a company out west. On nice sunny afternoons, I flee the office to enjoy the nice weather and clean flax seed. If it is windy, I winnow the seed to remove the dust and chaff. If the wind is not on my side, I spend my time threshing the seed bulbs to remove the seeds. 

Another project I have been working on is blending tow, the fibres that are left behind in the hackles, with sheep’s wool for spinning purposes. I have been hand carding, with cards designed for sheep’s wool, to remove the stem and any remaining knots.

The TapRoot flax field has been planted this week. Personally, I am looking forward seeing the blue flowers that the flax plant produces. You can watch our flax growing over the season by liking the TapRoot Fibre Lab Facebook page.

Have a lovely June, Rhea.


TapRoot Fibre Lab's paper making experiment.

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If you 'liked' the TapRoot Fibre Lab page on Facebook, you probably notice the pictures I (Rhea) have been posting of our hand made linen paper. Over the past few weeks, I have been experimenting with making paper out of our own flax. During this experiment, I have been using different parts of the flax plant, soaking some material overnight, as well as cooking the plant material in a water and baking soda mixture.

If you are interested in trying your hand at paper making, reference the links I have listed below. This list includes different paper making sites that provide how-to information and/or paper making equipment.

Paper making information:

Paperslurry - Papermaking with plants poster: http://paperslurry.bigcartel.com/product/papermaking-with-plants-12x18-poster

Liz-Anna's Lakeside Studio - Make Your Own Paper from Plants: http://liz-annaslakesidestudio.blogspot.ca/2010/06/papermaking-tutorial.html

Hand papermaking Newsletter - Sources of Fibre and Pulp: http://newsletter.handpapermaking.org/beginner/beg17.htm

Hand papermaking Newsletter - Harvesting Fibres: http://newsletter.handpapermaking.org/beginner/beg72.htm

Hand papermaking Newsletter - Methods of Beating Fibre: http://newsletter.handpapermaking.org/beginner/beg33.htm

Hand papermaking Newsletter - Assessing Your Pulp and Paper: http://newsletter.handpapermaking.org/beginner/beg88.htm

Hand papermaking Newsletter - Sheet Formation and Uniformity: 



Paper making equipment:

Paperslurry - Make a Mould and Deckle for Handmade Paper - Cheap, Quick & Dirty: http://paperslurry.com/2014/08/01/make-mould/

Hollander Beater:

Reina Hollander Beater: http://www.briarpress.org/17372

Carriage House Paper, supplies for the Hand Papermaker: 


Catherine Nash's Resources - Using Hollander Beaters : Beater Finesse: http://www.papermakingresources.com/articles_beater.html

Alibaba (search results for a hollander beater): http://www.alibaba.com/trade/search?fsb=y&IndexArea=product_en&CatId=4327&SearchText=hollander+beater

Paperslurry: The Oracle Holland Beater - Papermaking Equipment by Lee McDonald: http://paperslurry.com/tag/hollander-beater/

The Oracle Hollander Beater PDF: http://toolsforpaper.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/up-to-date-oracle-flyer.pdf

The Fiber Wire: Holland Beaters - Helping Papermakers Since the 1600s:  http://thefiberwire.com/2014/05/09/hollander-beaters-helping-the-papermaker-since-the-1600s/

W WMU PILOT PLANTS: http://www.wmich.edu/pilotplants/hollander-beater

Lee McDonald Company - Papermaking equipment: http://toolsforpaper.com/blog/

Lee Scott McDonald - THE HYDRA HOLLANDER BEATER PDF: http://www.pickar.caltech.edu/me105/materials/papermaking/beater.pdf

David Reina Designs - Beaters: http://www.davidreinadesigns.com/beaters/

Mark Lander - Little Critter Hollander Beaters: http://marklander.org/hollander-beaters/

Paperslurry - The Critter Paper Beater is Dandy for Hand Papermaking Studios: