An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 866 pages of information about An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 1.
prepared are held in the left hand, with the thumb resting on the upper part of the slip just above the cut.  The muscle-shell held in the right hand is placed on the upper part just below the cut, with the thumb resting on the upper part.  The shell is drawn to the end of the slip, which separates the vegetable covering from the flaxen filaments.  The slip is then trimmed, and the same operation is performed on the remaining part, which leaves the flax entire.  If it be designed for fishing-lines, or other coarse work, nothing more is done to it; but if intended for cloth, it is twisted and beaten for a considerable time in a clear stream of water; and when dried, twisted into such threads as the work requires.  It has been before observed, that the New Zealand instructors were not very conversant in the mode of preparing the flax; but on what was learnt from them it was our business to improve.  Instead of working it as soon as gathered, our people found it work better for being placed in a heap in a close room for five days or a week, after which it became softer and pleasanter to work.  They also found it easier, and more expeditious, to scrape the vegetable covering from the fibres, which is done with three strokes of a knife.  It is then twisted, and put into a tub of water, where it remains until the day’s work is finished.  The day following it is washed and beaten in a running stream.  When sufficiently beaten it is dried, and needs no other preparation, until it is hackled and spun into yarn for weaving.

The numbers employed at this work were as follow: 

Invalids gathering the flax 3 men
Preparing it 7 women
Beating and washing it 3 who are invalids
Flax-dresser 1
Spinners 2 women
Weaver and assistant 2 men
Total 18

by whose weekly labour sixteen yards of canvas of the size of No 7 was made.  It is to be remarked, that the women, and most of the men, could be employed at no other work; and that the labour of manuring and cultivating the ground; the loss of other crops; the many processes used in manufacturing the European hemp, and the accidents to which it is liable during its growth, are all, by using this flax, avoided, as it needs no cultivation, and grows in sufficient abundance on all the cliffs of the island (where nothing else will grow) to give constant employment to five hundred people.  Indeed, should it be thought an object, any quantity of canvas, rope, or linen, might be made there, provided there were men and women, weavers, flax-dressers, spinners, and rope-makers, with the necessary tools; but destitute as our people were of these aids, all that could be done was to keep in employ the few that could be spared from other essential work.  If a machine could be constructed to separate the vegetable covering from the flaxen filaments, any quantity of this useful article might be prepared with great expedition.

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An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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