V ä v a! V e v e! weaving cloth one thread at a time

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Linen: The Unfortunate Second Choice

Something that I have struggled to understand since I first started to weave with linen, is why there are no linen mills in the United States.  From the research that I have done, although not exhaustive, it has not revealed any record of any linen or flax mill in the United States, ever!  Or at least none that were big enough to have any record of existing.  Why is that?!  Did we go so gung-ho for cotton from the beginning??  Did Eli Whitney and his cotton gin have such an overwhelming effect on the textile industry as to delete flax from our very shores??  Did the unfortunate use of slaves in the 1800's make it so that cotton was easy to be king?  Did the politicians/land barons/cotton plantation owners of yesteryear buy their way to power, ensuring the dominance of cotton as the fiber of that century and centuries to follow??  Up until the late 18th century linen was probably the most important fiber in the world.  So what happened?

It is my understanding that flax is an easy crop to grow.  And although Belgium and Lithuania are in an optimal geo-climate, allowing that region to grow beautiful, long strong flax, it can be grown in just about any soil condition and in fairly harsh climates.

Oldest active linen mill in Lithuania.  

It requires water for the initial spouts to survive, but after that, basic rainfall works quite well for its healthy growth.  It is naturally pest resistant so pesticides and herbicides are not required for its growth, and its growing season is only about 3 months long, alowing most regions, even further north into Canada to grow flax with success.  The whole process of bringing the flax from seed to consumer is lots less costly to our earth in terms of toxic chemicals and water waste than cotton.  The linen fabric is so much stronger than cotton, and glossier and more beautiful than cotton, and more absorbant than cotton, linen lasts and lasts and is used and used, and is still passed from one generation to the next.  Whereas cotton is worn out in a couple of years at best, and thrown away.  So why is cotton still at the top of the heap??

 Large contemporary linen mill in Belgium

It just doesn't make sense to me, why the world persists in using cotton when linen is so much better!  My thought is that people just don't know!!  It has been a well kept secret and I guess I need to educate the world as to linen's functional, green, and beautiful qualities that are so lacking in cotton!!  Not even organic cotton can stand up to the workhorse fibers of flax!!

Combed Flax, being prepared for spinning.

So, until I can convince the world that flax is a very sustainable crop with very little waste, and what is waste is totally biodegradable; Until I can educate the world that flax is a very 'green' crop with very little to no use of toxic chemicals or herbicides to enhance its growth, nor has need of lots of water wasted in processing it into usable yarn and yard goods;  Until I can demonstrate to enough people that the superior inherent qualities of flax plant make linen an almost perfect fabric, with a long wearing life, extremely comfortable breath-ability, a quiet elegance, extreme absorbancy, a long glossy fiber that enables fabrics to have a sheen only seen in luxurious linen; Only when all this is accomplished will linen once again touch our shores and become a 'staple' in our farming communities, and our clothing and textile industries!  So help me spread the word!  Wear LINEN!  Use LINEN!!  BUY LINEN!!!  Linen:  The fiber that does it all!!

Linen Yarns imported for  v ä v a! v e v e!

Color:  AGATE

Color:  NEW LEAF


Color:  SLATE

Color:  VIOLET

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Conscious Evolution

There are so many things in our world to concern us and take up our attention; so much has gone awry.  The US political system is corrupt and it's economy is based on smoke and mirrors; Europe's monetary system is in jeopardy; many of Africa's nations seem to be in war and/or turmoil and their peoples in huge need; our earth's ecosystem is so out of balance that ice is melting on our polar ice caps, and weather systems are getting more extreme and intense; our wasteful living is piling up and polluting everything around it; the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer.  At the core of all of this . . . . greed.  And it is not somebody else, some nameless person living in some other neighborhood, state or country who is causing this.  It is each and every one of us, trying to make ends meet, struggling to pay the mortgage, feeding and clothing our families, trying to scratch out a decent way of life.  Sure, the rich are benefiting from much of the chaos and destruction that is going on, but so are the rest of us.

I have talked about this before, and feel I need to address it again.  We all need to take responsibility for what is happening to our earth.  We each need to make many changes to our lives if we are going to survive.  I'm not talking about surviving in our own lifetimes.  I am talking about changing the way we walk through our own lives so our descendents will be able to live in anything other than a bubble.  Call it Conscious Evolution.

As each species confronts a problem that threatens them, the ones that are not as subject to the threat are the ones that survive.  This is evolution 101.  Built in defense measures such as the spiky fins on a fish, or the odor of the skunk are what have enabled these species to survive to date.  Even now, each species is evolving ever so slowly to accommodate our aggressive world.  But mankind has been manipulating our world, messing with this natural order, and disrupting evolution.  Through our striving to come up with a bigger and better mousetrap, and through our insecurities and needs which compel us to build up storehouses of supplies, we have managed to strip our world bare, and created such gaping holes in the world's balance, we now have outpaced the natural evolution and are now required to figure out our own evolution.  We now require everyday things like sunblock for our skin, since our ozone layer, thanks to humankind, is now letting in the wrong kinds of sunlight which is having huge adverse affect on skin.  We use so much water, we have to regulate it's use.   We have caused all manner of flora and fauna to die and even go extinct long before it was meant to, never to be seen again.  We are polluting the air, ground and water, and stripping the earth of the tools to mend itself, such as the large forests in our world which clean our air, developing wetlands into condos taking away the most efficient water filters we could have, and digging horrible sludge up from the bowels of the earth and using it for fuel - something definitely wrong there - and who knows what long term effects there will be from disrupting our earth miles below it's crust??!!

Each of us is a consumer.  We buy lots of stuff!!  We buy lots of stuff we just don't need, made in such a manner as to save money for the manufacturer who is trying to compete with the market by making the cheapest product he can make and still earn a profit, and who is not paying any attention to the actual costs to our earth.  We buy these cheap products to fulfill our needs.  Therefore we are supporting the destruction of our earth by buying these products.  We need to start paying attention, and being responsible and accountable for what we consume!  Rather than buy the inexpensive salad bowl, made a 1/2 world away, and which will need to be replaced in a year, we need to invest in our lives and our earth by purchasing quality, locally made items that will last, which are made with the least impact on our earth.  These items are more expensive, but in the long run, they have the least cost.  We need to change how we consume!  We need to make a conscious effort every day, about what we use and consume.  This is difficult, since it means having to pay attention to things we never really had to think about because we let the manufacturer make decisions for us.  If we trusted the manufacturer/brand name we didn't have to look any deeper.  They did the policing for us, or so we thought.  But now, everything has changed.  We need to take a look at everything, all the time!  We have gotten away with a very relaxed way of consuming for a very long time.  It is time that we started putting in some effort to support a positive way of consuming, so we can stay healthy along with our earth.  It is time that we evolve in our approach to consumption in our daily life so that we are not outpaced by the changing earth.  Let's start to consciously evolve and think about what and how we use our earth's resources by consuming less, local, and lime 'green'!!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Goodness!  It's been waaaaay too long since I last posted.  Inhale . . . So, lots has happened in the last year.  I have moved my studio, started working with retailers, set up a yarn business, added designs to my line, sent my son off to Kuwait, and my daughter to Europe!  Pant! Pant!  Wheeze!  For those of you looking to respond to my  plea for production weaving help through the Weavers Guild of MN, please go to my website www.vavaveve.com if you want to get an idea of who I am and what I do, then email me by clicking on the 'Contact Us' tab on my website.  Thank you for your help!!