More than a great material for your clothes, linen is sturdy, breathable and light. But do you know what linen is made of? A plant yes, but which one? Read on and be amazed at what makes linen so special.
What is linen?
Now first we have to make sure we have linen and for that we have to sow our plant.
Which plant exactly? Flax!
Now you may have seen or heard of them. People use flax in different things, for example: to make linseed oil.
The plant has a long woody stem and in it is the magic part we need to make linen.
We can only start seeding when the weather is milder. Flax is quite delicate and needs a specific environment to grow in.
The ideal environment for flax consists of:
- Mild temperatures, with occasional sunshine. (+- 15 to 28 degrees)
- A moist soil (regular showers, but not too much)
These factors, then, make it no coincidence that West Flanders in Belgium is the ideal environment for this plant. If you ask specialists, you will certainly be told a few times, that Belgian linen is one of the or even the best in the world.
After the flax has grown to the desired stage, the plant is pulled out whole with root and laid flat on the ground.
Now Mother Nature is lending us a hand.
Like all good things in life such as wine, beer or cheese. Should the flax first undergo some kind of ripening/fermentation process.
Here the environment contributes a very crucial role. Soil, rain and sun cause microorganisms to break down the plant’s pectins.
Now that the plant is ready to be made into linen, bales of the flax are collected. These bales are first put into a kind of scutching machine.
This machine separates the fiber used for linen from the woody stem.
After separation they are spun into a thread, depending on the desired result different techniques are used.
Yarns of the finest linen are always wet spun.
Now at last one can weave garment fabric from the linen and further process it into various products including: clothing, curtains, kitchen towels, etc….
As you read, linen is a pure and natural product, which is light and pleasant to the touch.
Therefore, for many (including myself), nothing beats a pure linen shirt during sultry hot summer days.