The retting of flax
Retting is one of the stages in flax cultivation. It prepares the plant for further processing in the scutching of flax. This transformation step is carried out directly in the fields.
Retting begins after the flax is harvested. Laid out on the ground, retting occurs naturally through the alternating effects of rain and sun. The objective is to soften the flax bark in order to optimize the extraction of flax fiber.
The retting process has an influence on the color of the fiber. It can range from blond to dark brown, including a gray and shiny color (referred to as 'blue' by flax growers). Generally conducted in August, retting lasts for two to six weeks depending on the weather. It is done under the supervision of the flax grower, who determines the end date of retting (the collection of flax).
During retting, the flax can be turned over to achieve even retting.