Hi there! Firstly, thank you for stopping by to take a read. I know there are so many blogs, emails, social media feeds, etc, vying for attention and you’ve come here so THANK YOU.
Linen. I love it, mostly in the context of interior furnishings but I’ve also found it to be an incredible fibre to wear. My linen shorts and tees have been washed over and over, getting better with age. Can you think of another fibre that ages as gracefully as linen?
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO LOVE ABOUT LINEN?
- Very durable (30% stronger than cotton)
- High-moisture absorbancy (why it is better than cotton for tea towels)
- Hypo-allergenic and highly breathable (why it makes great clothing and sheeting)
- Structurally sound so fibres keep their shape (great for cushions and upholstery)
- Moth resistant, rot resistant
- Gets stronger when wet
- Becomes softer and more pliable the more it is washed (SUCH a bonus)
- Biodegradable when undyed
- Less water and chemicals in production than any other fibres (except maybe hemp)
Watch out for lower quality linen – sometimes the result of the processing method, shorter fibre lengths, or stonewashing to create the lived-in look quickly. (Cheaply priced linen might be an indicator….)
WHERE DOES LINEN COME FROM?
It’s obviously a natural fibre, made from the inner core of the flax plant. Extracting the fibres from the plant is extremely time consuming and I’ve read that the extracting and processing of the fibres is still done by hand in some parts of the world. Other times aspects of the process are mechanised but still processing times are long, and this results in the higher price of linen compared to other fibres. Nowadays linen is almost considered a luxury fibre, but until the Industrial Revolution linen was in everyday use. Then with the introduction of spinning machines, large plantations of cotton in America could be processed into yarn quickly and this became a more affordable choice.
- The production of linen uses 5-20 times less water than cotton and synthetics – that’s huge!
- The growing and processing of flax can be done without added chemicals however to speed up the retting process (part of fibre processing) chemicals might be added. Still, this is significantly less than for standard cotton production.
- When linen is undyed it is fully biodegradable. So the natural colours like ivory, ecru, tan and grey will likely mean the fabric is in its natural state.
- Bleaching is required to create pure white linen so this is not as environmentally friendly.
- Nothing from the plant is wasted; think linseed oil and flax seeds.
- In summary, the growing, processing, spinning and weaving of linen has very little impact on the environment.
WHERE DO WE FIND THE BEST QUALITY LINEN?
Belgium and Normandy in France are considered to have the ideal climate for growing flax, but other parts of Europe including Ireland are known for their high quality plants. (As an aside, the New Zealand flax plant is a totally different species to European flax – see the image below – nothing like our local plant!)
If you’ve been following along with previous posts you’ll know about the small range of linen cushions available through my facebook shop. These are handpainted and made here in Auckland by Smitten Design in colours I’ve put together. There’s a dusky coral/green/navy combo you can see by popping over to my shop.
Behind the scenes I am creating a website and will be adding to the products I stock – all handcrafted and ethically sourced, so you can be sure you are caring for the planet and its people while decorating your home.
Again, thanks for reading and please leave a message in the comments section if you have any questions.