Friday, January 21, 2011

The Timeless Beauty of Linen

In the coming months we will be offering a new range of linen-cotton blends at an excellent price (and with a soft hand). Also, we are getting in a variety of new yarn dyed 100% flax linen fabrics. These new yarn dyes possess a somewhat hard-to-find iridescent structure. That is where the weaving consists of a warp of a selected color, and a weft of another tone--or hue.

Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant, Linum usitatissimum. On a per yield basis, linen is somewhat labor-intensive to produce and manufacture--but when converted into garments and objects of home decor, it is valued for its elemental qualities, exceptional freshness, and extraordinary last-ability.

Wrinkly but not Crinkly
Many people appreciate linen as a bold and relatively stiff/crisp/starched/wrinkly-but-not-crinkly material.  If that is your preference, then refrain from machine washing.  Dry clean--or gently hand wash.  Consider unwashed linen as relatively non-absorbant--and therefore soil and gunk resistant.  Imagine teflon--before it gets badly scratched up. On the other hand, be aware that linen will accomodate a stain as readily as it accepts dyestuff. Linen steadily softens with washing and wearing--but not nearly as fast as does cotton. Which is more time honored?


Hand me down..   
Like a well worn pair of blue jeans, linen is particularly lovely after many washes.

The term, "hand" may come to mind.  That which is soft to the touch, has weight, and drapes well.. Just ask Mrs. Tiggy Winkle!


Lasts a Lifetime?
Linen is “generational”, outliving and perhaps even aging better than each and every one of us!  Consider linen, an heirloom textile..

The Durability of Linen  
Linen is highly absorbent (particularly when softened), and a decent conductor of heat. Yet woven linen fabric feels cool to the touch!  Linen is among the strongest of all vegetable fibers--with 2 to 3 times the strength of cotton! It is smooth, making a finished fabric lint free.  Linen gets softer the more it is washed. Consider the fact that constant creasing in the area of sharp folds can tend to break linen threads. 

Bast Fiber Structure
Flax linen is derived from a bast fiber. Flax fibers vary in length from about 25 to 150 centimeters (18 to 55 inches) and average 12-16 micrometers in diameter. A cross-section of the flax fiber shows a structure of irregular polygonal shapes. This is what contributes to the coarse texture of the linen fabric.

Linen & Art History
Linen material is one of the preferred traditional supports for oil painting. In the US, cotton is more popularly used instead of linen.  The comparitively higher cost of linen restricts its use to professional painters. In Europe however, linen is usually the only fabric support available in art shops--preferred over cotton for its strength, durability and archival integrity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From Elegant to Elemental!