Flax How-To: 4 Quick Tips

Whether spinning flax for the first time, or the hundredth, these great tips will help smooth the way.

Spin Off Editorial Staff May 1, 2024 - 4 min read

Flax How-To: 4 Quick Tips Primary Image

Are you a spinner without a hackle? A craft-store floral frog works a treat! Photo by Matt Graves

Flax is having a moment, and many spinners are exploring this ancient fiber for the first time. Here are four tips from great resources that can help smooth your cellulosic path.

Josefin Waltin uses a Swedish brush made of hog bristles to brush her rehackled flax stricks. Photo by Matt Graves

Give It a Brush

Josefin Waltin has been on a deep exploration of flax spinning in her native Sweden and beyond. She recently wrote about a traditional tool that was new to many spinners: a Swedish brush made of hog bristles! Josefin brushes her rehackled flax stricks, removing short fibers and tangles, before securing them to a distaff.

Josefin Walton Spinner, “Flax Brush.” August 1, 2020.

Linda Heinrich simmers flax seeds in water to form a slippery liquid for spinning flax. Photo by Petra from Pixabay

Seed Sludge

Flax that is dampened as it is spun is stronger and smoother than dry-spun. Traditionally, saliva was often used, but many spinners use a flaxseed solution. As Linda Heinrich instructs in her flax compendium, “simmer 1 tsp. of flax seeds (any kind will do) in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes and strain.” The result is a slippery liquid that can be kept for several weeks.


Heinrich, Linda. Linen: From Flax Seed to Woven Cloth. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2010.

Left: Jude Daurelle spun the linen for these woven towels and table runner as samples to use when she teaches spinning linen; photo by Joe Coca. Right: Jude spins linen the easy way—by holding the fibers in a towel; photo by Dave Daurelle.

No Distaff, No Problem

While having a beautiful distaff (or 10) can be a joy, you can spin line flax without any distaff at all. In 2002, Jude Daurelle wrote an article for Spin Off about wrapping rehackled flax in a tea towel for spinning, a technique she picked up from Olive and Harry Linder. Jude simply tucks the wrapped bundle under the arm of her fiber hand and spins as one would with a distaff.

Daurelle, Jude. “Spinning Flax into Linen the Easy Way.” Spin Off Winter 2002, 66–68.

Raven Ranson uses a floral frog for rehackling long line flax to loosen the fibers before spinning. Photo by Matt Graves

A Frog for Flax

Rehackling long line flax before spinning loosens fibers that have been compressed in storage; however, not all flax-curious spinners have proper flax hackles. Raven Ranson of Crowing Hen suggests using a floral frog. These palm-size, inexpensive tools are used in flower arranging but can also work wonders in our spinner’s hands. See Raven put one to good use on the Crowing Hen YouTube channel.

Crowing Hen, “How to dress a distaff with flax for handspinning linen yarn.”.

This article was first published in Spin Off Winter 2024.

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