FLAX TO LINEN
Before cotton or wool clothing,
there was linen . . .
the oldest textile in the world
But before linen was woven and worn,
there was flax,
a fibrous grassy plant with long stems,
one of the first cultivated crops.
In the "fertile crescent", Egyptians harvested flax
for its fibers to make a fine fabric from its fibers.
(Ancient mummies were wrapped in this woven cloth.)
Fact is, flax fabric is linen.
They're one and the same.
(Linum is latin for "flax plant.")
The process is much the same since ancient times:
The stems are dried, and seeds removed.
The stems are crushed or "retted" to form strands,
and then combed and pulled to straighten.
Long, luxurious fibers can reach 12-15" (for finest linen),
which can then be spun into linen yarn.
Depending on grade, the yarn is then woven
into linen fabric and textiles.
Linen is cool in hot weather,
wears like iron, and
even stronger wet than dry.
(Photos taken at Kirkwood's Green Tree Festival,
"Folk Life Artisans" displays)