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:  CORNFLOWER BLUE
Color:  NEW LEAF



Color:  SUNSHINE

Color:  SLATE




Color:  VIOLET




















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