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A number of steps are involved in processing the flax plant for spinning. After the plant has been "retted" (or rotted) and beaten and scraped to remove most of the outer skin, the fibers would be pulled through a series of metal spiked brush-like tools known as "hatchels" to finish removing the bits of skin, cull out the shorter fibers and align the longer ones for spinning. Hatchels were made with differing densities of spikes. The spikes on this one are quite finely spaced.
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