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Grow flax with me this summer

A greeting shows off its fine link nipple. Unknown year. Photo: Hilding Mickelsson / Hälsingland Museum (CC BY-NC)

The 1 sqm flax project started in Västra Götaland in spring 2020. This year the project has become a national project, where all the country's handicraft associations invite curious people to grow flax - from north to south, from seed to fibre. Want to join in?

I'm going to grow flax this summer! 1 square meter, to be exact. The other day I signed up for the national project 1 sqm linen organised by the country's handicraft consultants. In the future, I will receive a letter from them with enough flax seed to sow 1 square meter, and they will teach me and hundreds (thousands?) of other participants how to sow flax, harvest flax, prepare flax, yes the whole process.

If you've been curious about flax for a long time, or if you're just itching for a little extra growing project this summer, read on, click here you will find registration links from all parts of the country. The deadline for most regions is 1 May, but some areas have deadlines now in mid-April, so sign up now if you are interested

Listen to ethnologist Inger Widhja talk about how she got the idea for the project from her grandmother:

In my local cultural association here in Ångermanland, flax has long been grown. The association used to cultivate large fields, but nowadays it's about 3×3 meters that two women in the cultural association sow every year. A beautiful green field with blue flowers, which I used to stop and admire every summer on family walks. Linen used to play a central role here in the village, especially for the women, and my home village and Ångermanland were widely known for their fine linen fabrics. So it will be fun to try growing flax myself.

Perhaps, if I make it an annual tradition here at home, it will also spark an interest in my children in this beautiful part of our heritage. After all, the old flax processing tools are still up in the barn. From the village's heyday. We'll see if it's time to dust them off this summer.

Growing flax
Flax - a beautiful plant!

In May I will sow my flax up here in Ångermanland. Down south you can sow maybe already in April. Two days ago I received the first letter from my local handicraft consultant, giving me instructions on how to grow flax as well as learning about some of the folklore that surrounded flax growing in the past.

Everything could affect the sowing and it was important to know what you were doing. Secrets, sacred rhymes and rituals were part of the linen.

Working group for 1 sqm flax

Or how about this rhyme, recorded from Blekinge, which was read out when the lentil sowing was finished:

Now I have put
Now I have sown
Now I have done what I can.
Now it is only in the Lord's hand
To give the flax much won.
With sky clear and warmth pure
that dissipates the air from everything but
and give lovely crop
for the children of the earth, but not for the dead.

Then you turn to the east and say:

Our sun he is the power that gives the soil its juice.

Then to the west, bows and says:

Odin, Thor and Frejen, will come now with the journey.

1920-1940: Flax processing in Bohuslän. Photo: Ingeborg Enander / Bohuslän Museum

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