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Flax Mill

Cultivating flax and weaving linen were important activities in Hälsingland from the middle ages onwards. Much work was involved in producing a linen thread.

The Flax Mill (Linberedningsverket) comes from Hälsingland and probably dates from the early 19th century. 

Cultivating flax and weaving linen were important activities in Hälsingland from the middle ages onwards. Much work was involved in producing a linen thread. The flax was sown and harvested and then had to be subjected to numerous processes such as retting, braking or crushing, scutching and hackling before it could be spun to produce a yarn. To reduce the amount of manual labour, flax mills began to be built during the 18th century. Mills were often owned jointly by several farms.

The Flax Mill at Skansen is situated by a small stream. The stream drives a water-wheel which sets the various tools in motion. On the bottom floor the flax was crushed using a mighty wooden hammer while on the upper floor it was scutched using knives arranged like spokes in two large wheels.


The cultivation of flax and the production of linen reached a peak in Hälsingland in the middle of the 19th century. After that merchants began to import cotton into Sweden and many farmers gave up preparing
linen.

It is not surprising that flax bears the Latin name Linum usitatissimum which means “the most usable.” Flax can not only be processed to produce a hardwearing cloth. The seeds can be used as animal feed and linseed and decocts of linseed were used medicinally for both humans and animals. The seeds could also be pressed to produce linseed oil. Clothing that was impregnated with linseed oil was water-repellant and was used by fishermen before the days of plastics or PVC coatings. Linseed oil could also be used for making soap, paints, varnish, linoleum, oilcloth, printing ink and putty.

The tow that was left over when the flax had been scutched was used for filling in the gaps between logs to insulate houses and tow is still used by plumbers today. Tow is also used today in making bedding and soft furnishings.
Linen yarn was formerly used for making fishing nets and lines and cobblers used impregnated linen yarn for sewing shoes. The fire brigade used linen for making hoses and jumping nets and linen also provided sails for boats of all sorts.


1830-1860


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