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Flax break

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Inside of the stem of the flax plant are long hair-like fibers that are spun to make linen thread. The fibers are encased in a tough skin that must be removed to make the fibers accessible. There are a number of steps involved in the process of removing this outer skin. First the plant is "retted", or soaked in water, to rot the skin and then the plant is dried and worked over with the flax break. The hinged top piece would be lifted and the top of the plant stems would be placed across the base. As one hand pulls the plant slowly across the base, the other hand repeatedly slams the top down upon it to break up the skin along the whole length of the plant. Further processing would follow to remove the bits of skin and align the fibers for spinning.


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