SPINNING, BLEACHING, AND WEAVING FLAX
AFTER all this preparation has been done, then comes
the spinning, which is, of course, the work of the women
and girls. I am proud to say I could spin a skein of
thread in one day, before I was thirteen years old, and
you must know that this is no mean work for a girl,
since it is reckoned that the best of spinners can do
no more than two skeins.
 Of course the skeins must be bleached, otherwise
the cloth made from them would look as if woven of
tow, and this portion of the work mother is always
very careful to look after herself.
The skeins must stay in warm water for at least
four days, and be wrung out dry every hour or two,
when the water is to be changed. Then they are washed
in a brook or river until there is no longer any dust or
dirt remaining, after which they are bricked, which is
the same as if I had said
bleached, with ashes and
hot water, over and over
again, and afterward
left to remain in clear
water a full week.
Then comes more
rinsing, beating, washing, drying, and wind
ing on bobbins, so that
it may be handy for
The chief men in Boston made a law that
all boys and girls be
taught to spin flax, and a certain sum of money was
set aside to be given these who made the best linen
that had been raised, spun, and woven within the town.
 I am told that in some of the villages nearabout, the
men who make the laws have ordered that every family
shall spin so many pounds of flax each year, or pay a
very large amount of money as a fine for neglecting
to do so.
It is not needed I should set down how flax is spun,
for there is but one way to spin that I know of, whether
the material be wool, cotton, or flax.
But I would I might be able so to set it down, that
whosoever reads could understand, how my mother wove
this linen thread into cloth; but it would require more
of words than I have patience to write.
If there be any who have the desire to know how
the linen for their tables, or for their clothing, is made,
I would advise that the matter be studied as one would
a lesson in school, for it is most interesting, and father
holds to it that every child should be able to make all
of that which he wears.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics