Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Milkweed mania

I never got past this much cleaned fiber (and will probably combine the left side with the cleaner right side, only to get enough to get the vat going).
I had even considered driving home last week with all of the stalks to process, but didn't. I felt the weight of them not stripped heavier each day, and started to strip as soon as I got back. Dry stripping felt endless, so I steamed and stripped in a rush before heading to a great ramen place last night in Battle Creek with friends.
But that was kind of ridiculous for the state the stalks were in, so I went back to dry stripping today and finished in just under three hours (after stabbing and scratching up my hands and fingers a bit in my haste).
This is the rest of it. After Velma shared a great nettle video with me last week and noted similarities with milkweed, I realized I've been approaching dry stripping all wrong for years. Once I stomped on each stalk with my foot and split them lengthwise, it went so much more easily. The survivalist folks do the same when splitting dogbane for cordage, as they are trying to preserve all the length of the fibers.
Two cooks done today: dry stripped and steam stripped of the uncleaned fibers. Tomorrow I'll cook the cleaned ones and hopefully start hand beating. I am REALLY itching to pull sheets, though I so appreciate all this fiber prep time. It's all a necessary part of the process and provides a lot of time to think and improve each step, plus appreciate all that it takes to do this work.
I had considered doing this for a while, and the trip home was the perfect chance to grab a worn duvet. In ripping and cutting it apart to soak (and beat on Friday), I was glad that I did it, because it's so threadbare! I'm happy to have used and worn it so well; it and the silk blanket inside served me admirably over many years and homes. I'm excited for it to enter its next life.

1 comment:

Velma Bolyard said...

i haven't finished my big pile yet...but the cracking/breaking makes it so much easier!