It is thereafter once more tied up, placed in the crates, and sunk in the river to complete the retting process; but this double steeping is not invariably practised.
From the earliest times two leading processes of retting have been practised, termed respectively water-retting and dew-retting; and as no method has yet been introduced which satisfactorily supersedes these operations, they will first be described.
He proposed to separate the fibre by purely mechanical means without any retting whatever; but after the Irish Linen Board had expended many thousands of pounds and much time in making experiments and in erecting his machinery, his entire scheme ended in complete failure.
The time of sowing, the quantity of seed per acre (about three bushels) and the method of gathering and retting are very similar to those of flax; but, as a rule, it is a hardier plant than flax, does not possess the same pliability, is much coarser and more brittle, and does not require the same amount of attention during the first few weeks of its growth.
To a large extent retting continues to be conducted in the primitive fashions above described, although numerous and persistent attempts have been made to improve upon it, or to avoid the process altogether.
Any simple operation which improves the colour of the fibre or shortens the operation of retting is worthy of consideration.
It is also thought that the drying of the plants before retting facilitates the separation of the fibre.
The only modification of water-retting which has hitherto endured the test of prolonged experiment, and taken a firm position as a distinct improvement, is the warm-water retting patented in England in 1846 by an American, Robert B.