Flax and linen is documented as part of civilization long before the pyramids. Political intervention supporting cotton producers gradually destroyed the linen industry about 200 years ago. However, Flax and linen is making a comeback here and in Europe.
In 2010 The Linen Project
evolved out of Transition Victoria’s Re-skilling Group and was
inspired by Denise Dunn. Since then this group and
other flax to linen enthusiasts have planted an acre of
flax, and as we shared the field, we harvested what felt like
a huge 1/2 acre of flax in a field near Elk Lake. This active
nonprofit group is here to develop and maintain skills and knowledge
to produce flax fibre and linen cloth.
A little bit about linen.
It is a pretty amazing fabric. It's
resistant to moths & carpet beetles, resists dirt & stains, has
no lint or pilling tendencies, can be dry cleaned, machine washed or
steamed and has only moderate initial shrinkage. It feels cool to the touch and smooth. It gets softer the more it is washed. It absorbs and looses moisture rapidly and can gain up to 20% moisture without feeling damp.
A characteristic often associated with contemporary linen yarn is the
presence of "slubs", or small knots which occur randomly along its
length. These slubs used to be considered as defects associated with low
quality. However many contemporary Linen fabrics, particularly in the
decorative furnishing industry, slubs are intentionally included as part
of the aesthetic appeal of a natural product and do not compromise
integrity of the fabric thus not considered as a defect. The finest
linen has very consistent diameter threads, with no slubs. (Wikipedia)
It comes in
natural shades of ivory, ecru, tan or grey but when scoured (washed
& bleached) this natural colour will change. It wrinkles easily but
sometimes that is part of it's charm. Just hang until dry. If you
need to, you iron linen when damp so with clothing it would be best hung
up wet then ironed when it's dried a little.
At this point in time our
group of multi-talented folks have been educating and demonstrating
flax to linen processing. This includes the making of pre-industrial
tools, demonstrating at farmers markets, historic venues and craft
fairs. As we have now attracted more spinners and weavers to the
group we are at the beginning stages of producing linen cloth items;
truly becoming a "dirt to skirt" endeavor.