Today the flax went into bloom at our local suppliers, the picture says it all. This flax will be produced into Irish linen, which Loft Trading will be using for their new pieces – we are so exited to see the bloom of this amazing plant.
A little more information on the flax we use:
Flax is a bast-fibre, related to hemp and jute. It is the oldest and strongest fibre that man has been making textiles from, the oldest linen we know of is around 4,500 years old. The plant and the fibre is called flax, once it has been spun into yarn, it is then called linen.
Flax is labour-intensive, from the sowing to the finished product. Very dense sowing is required evenly on clay type land – the right ground is of great importance. Sowing takes place at the end of April, no later than early May. In Ireland about 1,500 seeds are used per square-metre. It grows fast, approximately 14 weeks to produce a very beautiful bloom.
After maturing the plant is pulled from the ground. It is then retted in water or dew, which leads to a weakening of the straw. The next part of the process is scutching, which separates the straw from the fibre. The fibre then goes to the spinning mill where – after heckling (combing through) – it is spun into yarn. The linen yarn goes to the weaver who turns it into cloth.
The cloth is then finished, which can consist of bleaching, dyeing, calendaring or beetling. All sorts of chemical fertilisers and finishes are being used today, they don’t suit linen and can weaken the fabric, so our suppliers don’t use them – making the linen we use 100% organic!
Photographs by Julie Henderson.