Flax and Hemp processing tools!

Hi Makers,

I’m researching and making some prototype tools for turning raw flax and hemp plants into yarn (for weaving or knitting). It’s part of a project I’m running to connect regenerative agriculture to sustainable fashion :slight_smile: If anyone here has experience in fibre processing tools I’d love to hear from you! Or if you’re just interested to be involved in developing some exciting new tools, and making some weird fabric. I’m working with a farmer down in Essex (who’s growing the flax) and Heriot-Watt Uni Textile school. Once I’ve done the prototypes I hope to upload the plans online so other farmers or small scale fashion designers can get involved too. I have limited experience with open-source hardware so if anyone could suggest good places to post the plans that would be super helpful!

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I’m not an expert in textile, but can help with the open source hardware side!

What software design tools are you using to design the new tools?

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I’m teaching myself to use FreeCAD at the moment, so I’m planning to make some virtual 3D models of the tools in that. And then also supply a materials list, and written instructions and film an instructional video too. I’m very new to this (my background is in textiles and sewing) so if you have suggestions of good software design tools to use I’m all ears!

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I use FreeCAD occasionally. Forgive me for any of this you already know! In particular, if you don’t know already, they are in the process of releasing version 0.19, which is substantially better than 0.18. I’ve been using beta releases of 0.19 and they have been definitely more stable than .18 in my experience.

It seems like youtube channels are the best place to start, and some youtubers who have been focusing on new versions recently include:

When you save your models in FCStd files, it is also worth saving them as STEP files, because that’s a standard interchange format between CAD tools that anyone with any CAD tool could load.

Go ahead and share work in progress here. You’ll have a friendly audience cheering you on! :relaxed:

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I second joko engineering, who seem to be very clear in their presentation.

Are you planning on making your own spinning wheel or something with similar functionality? The weaving community has a LOT of specialized tooling, and in many cases it’s hard to imagine improving on what they’re doing. (And in some cases it’s really easy to imagine improvements, and I really can’t figure out why they haven’t already done so, which makes me think I don’t understand what’s going on: measuring warp hanks, for instance.)

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My understanding of flax processing is that a very stinky and time intensive part is the retting which allows bacteria, fungi or or maybe microbes to eat away the woody part from the fiber. I have to wonder if the process could be done more efficiently if methane, fuel, food or alcohol was actually an intentional byproduct of the process. I believe in making use of everything whenever possible, but I believe that the water or whatever else than the fibers are often discarded. That is not efficient at all. What are your thoughts on this?