breaking open dried milkweed stalks to collect their bast fibers.
i pounded them with a makeshift billet against a smooth surface to break them similar to how ive broken brambles before, and then snapped the pith in order to get only the outer fibers.
At this point i had a bunch of the papery skins attaching all the fibers together, like the image just below. But peeling them off is both inefficient and can lead to breaking
in order to get rid of the outer layer, i rubbed/rolled them vigorously between the palms of my hands, breaking it into flakes that either fell off or can be combed/carded out. it was too difficult to film but basically the same as making a friction fire (although easier for sure).
At this point i had a handful of fibers, still long but in need of combing. I have a fine-toothed comb i use for a lot of fiber stuff, and ran that through it
I'll leave the sound on this one because it's an interesting auditory experience, some might like it some might hate it. Note, be prepared to sweep afterwards!
i used to worry about combing stuff like this too much, and i sort of still am, but its important to remember that what im removing are fibers that would otherwise be too short or fragile to include in a refined long-fiber bundle. What im going for is a line flax/fluff flax-like combo; aka i comb out the short fibers and then i have a bundle of extra long ones to work with!
the result is two bundles of different textures and potential
i made a little test string with the "line" milkweed, but i have yet to do anything more with it
as for the fluff, i carded it out!
i made it into a rolag that i then spun up on my tiny spindle
I quite like it. It definitely reminds me of flax/linen, which makes sense since it's also a bast fiber. Milkweed is often known for being extremely strong; i've heard from a fiber class instructor that you can tow a car with a finger-sized rope of it
I don't know exactly what kind of milkweed this is , but i've heard swamp milkweed is top of the class for fiber. orange butterflyweed is a bit weaker than this one (which might be swamp, might not)
(Also note, if you plant milkweeds, don't plant tropical milkweed outside of its native range! it's not as good as the native ones and can even increase disease in monarchs since it doesnt die back in warm winters)