Flax, fibres and spinning

Artisans in Belgium, France and the Netherlands have been working with flax for centuries with their skills and expertise passed on from generation to generation. From seed to fabric the Kent Cloth project explored the possibilities of growing flax in the UK.

We visited Belgian linen producers to discover more about the production of linen and the heritage of the cloth. Kent is situated so close to the continent we were keen to find out how flax grows on Kentish soil.

Taking participants through the process, from sowing the seeds in March, growing flax fibre here in the UK, pulling, retting, scutching, hackling and spinning. We grew flax at the Pines Calyx and Rochester Art Gallery with the support of the Bay Trust and Medway Norse, as well as distributing 300 seed packets to the community.

Following the 100-day growth cycle, the flax was pulled and with Jessie Mason leading a workshop, we learnt the skills to process flax fibres using traditional hand techniques.

Examples on display show machine processed Belgian Flax and our small-scale hand processed Kent flax.