Welcome to my stash, linen my love!

The newest edition to my yarn stash, soon to become the Meridian Tunic Dress from the new Twinkle book. So this blog was really started to keep me from straying from my goal of buying only environmentally/socially responsible yarns. And this may be my first real success: Linen yarn, specifically Louet Euroflax sport weight.  It’s beautiful yarn.  Apparently linen takes dye really well, so the colors are so vibrant and it has this lovely sheen to it.  When I first started knitting with it I felt like I was making a dress out of twine, but the more I go the lovelier it becomes.  And apparently it’s supposed to soften with washing–though I do like it the way it is.

I spent a few weeks searching for an organic linen yarn, but the search strangely turned up nothing–I got a lot of sites selling organic “linens,” which of course are generally no longer made of actual linen. I finally took the question to my Ravelry Greencraft group and asked what they knew, and I learned that the process for conventional linen is pretty close to organic making the certification an unnecessary extra cost. So linen may just be good all around.

I of course tried to do some of my own research on the subject just to make sure and found out some interesting stuff on linen and also some generally interesting sources of information on green yarns and textiles.

It seems that the reason linen is considered environmentally friendly is that it’s made from the flax plant, which requires very little fertilizer and has a lot of the same properties of hemp, where it’s normally grown without the use of chemicals.  But it may be better than hemp in that it can be grown in the US, or anywhere really, instead of mainly in China…which is far far away to be transported to my home in Washington DC.

Flax is also kind of like bamboo in that it’s one of those plants that we can use for so many things. The entire plant is used – “the leftover linseeds, oil, straw and fiber are used in everything from linoleum and soap to cattlefeed and paper. Waste is kept to a minimum during processing” (from a site about Irish Linen).So I can eat my flax cereal while wearing my linen dress. Win win in my book.

But, after some research I finally found what can be wrong with linen production from a great site, The Lazy Environmentalist.  It seems that it really is like bamboo, where even though the crop may be rapidly renewable and the agricultural practices environmentally friendly, the processing of the yarn is not as green as people would like to believe.

Although the actual growing of linen is free of the extensive spraying and use of pesticides used on cotton, it is the production process that can be environmentally damaging – the extensive water consumption and the chemicals and mordants used in the dying process.

Another point made on the site is that a lot of linen is actually now made in China, like hemp. The Louet linen is spun in Belgium, but I’m not sure where the flax is actually grown.  I hope somewhere closer to me than China.

Some other interesting tidbits about linen I came across:

  • Interesting scientific research examining the possibility for using waste from linen yarn production (spinning and roving losses) to make recycled plastics…it’s known to be an extremely strong fiber, so it did prove useful in this context. I won’t go into specifics…because it’s boring.
  • Interesting, particularly for my fellow knitters:  “Traditionally, pure linen yarn was uneven and could only be woven. This produced a fabric that was very comfortable and long lasting but one that wrinkled very easily. However, in the last decade, spinners have finally found ways to make linen yarn even enough so that it can be knitted. This, in turn, has allowed the production of linen garments that do not wrinkle easily.”

In true Twinkle fashion the dress is actually almost done, so I’ll be sharing it soon.  Linen has amazing stitch definition, so it’s coming along swimmingly.

About these ads

Tags: , , , , , , ,

10 Responses to “Welcome to my stash, linen my love!”

  1. Nadine Fawell Says:

    Ooh how exciting. I love the idea of eco – but I also love Twinkle yarn. Looking forward to seeing your dress; I really want one, but the voice in my head that says ‘Stripes? Across your ass? Are you SURE?’ has put me off a little. That, and the fact that I can’t find yarn I like.

  2. kara Says:

    Very interesting! I’ve not knit with linen before, but I guess I should give it a try. (Got here from Ravelry, in case you were wondering)

  3. linen and things Says:

    For years, I made the mistake of buying the wrong type of linen, bath products and other home products simply because I decided to buy from the big and popular names.
    However , the love for linen isnt dying as far i am concerned :) . Thats why i am reading linen related blogs :)

  4. Yearn Worthy Yarn: Linen : Crafting a Green World Says:

    […] Mona over at Textiles and Bicycles had a similar experience with hunting down linen yarn. Check out her experiences with linen yarn. […]

  5. Noel Mount Says:

    THE FLAX OF LIFE By Martin Raymond
    In love with Linen?
    Lecturer, writer and Lifestyle analyst Martin Raymond comes
    clean about a craving he can no longer keep to himself.
    Linen’s best kept secret lies in its versatility. And in many ways this has also
    been its downfall. There are still too many people who imagine it to be like the
    linen of their youth – tough, papery and never seeing a crease it didn’t like.
    In an age of convenience, linen has become something for the connoisseur; the man
    and woman with patience and perserverance and a very hot iron.
    Those of us who know, however, know better. Linen has long since passed
    through its ‘crease and be damned’ phase to become something far more elegant and exquisite. On the catwalks, for
    instance, I’m forever being confronted with futuristic fabrics that shimmer and sheen like iridescent beetle wings; that
    repel water like Teflon; shout colour with all the resonance and brashness of a Gary Hume painting; only to find that
    the fabric in question is linen.
    Gentle, classic designers such a John Rocha, Paul Smith and Jasper Conran love it for its whispering traditions;
    directional, art house names such as Rei Kawakubo, Miyake and Raf Simons for its to ability to absorb new colours,
    finishes, textures and properties that make it a fabric every bit as wondrous as the one worn by Alec Guinness in the
    Ealing film classic The Man in the White Suit.
    Linen to mainstream and avant garde designers is as much about the future as it is about tradition and tropical
    fashions. The worlds mills have long since listened to the voice of the hard-pressed businesswoman, or the man too
    much in a rush to bother with his Corby trouser press, and given them tomorrow’s new fangled technologies today.
    Linen that can be machine washed, tumble dried, coated with silicon or mixed with jersey, viscose, Tactel, Tencel, silk
    or hemp to improve performance, durability or drape. Indeed, new generations of linen can cling to the body with a fit
    that’s every bit as smooth and sensual as the naughtiest of bias-cut dresses.
    Even raw, unadulterated linen – fashion’s latest love affair – comes with added extras attached. Or rather embedded
    into the very fibres of the fabric itself. Enzymes that caress, comfort and soothe the garment long after you’ve bought
    it, so it continues to remain peachy soft, as malleable and easy on the skin as the softest of velvets.
    But how does it iron I hear you say? Like a dream, thanks to the minute amounts of liquid ammonia weavers have
    begun to add at the manufacturing stage, so that the fibres remain pliable and loose – a happy laboratory accident
    that has made linen as easy to iron as cotton.
    All this, of course, is for linen lightweights. The true connoisseur, like the true addict, will have nothing less than the
    full strength, unadulterated linen to satisfy his or her craving. For linen is the Cristal of all fabrics and once tasted it
    is hard to go back. I recall meeting a friend on the better end of the Rue Faubourg St Honoré, who, when she sniffed
    at my suit, declared to all and sundry, ‘Aaah the flax, the flax,’ before launching into meandering, but highly charged
    reminiscences of her youth. T’was the smell that done it your honour!
    For linen has such a bouquet to it, the smell of freshness and light, of grassy meadows and warm sun-kissed afternoons, of haystacks and
    Hey Jude nostalgia that quickens the heart and alarms the senses.
    So feral and full is linen’s bouquet that bespoke fragrance designers such as Jo Malone have actually bottled it, while retail psychologists, well
    versed in the Magick arts of making us buy more, pump linen and flax smells through the air conditioning of department stores to remind us
    that they are places of bygone luxuries and never-to-be-experienced-again pampering.
    And linen assuredly does this. It is the fabric of kings. Used to clothe Pharaohs on their thrones and comfort them in their tombs – 1000
    metres of linen was needed to wrap the average mummy! At Versailles it was held in such high esteem that only the king and his queen could
    own their own linen sheets, tablecloths and boudoir sundries; all other courtiers were forced to rent them on the grounds that only kings could
    possess such a royal fabric!
    But if linen was about possession and privilege, it was also about hope, love and the bridal trousseau. For what woman from the middle ages
    onwards would marry or move house without her linen or ‘hope chest’ as it was also called? And what woman didn’t understand linen’s true
    value?
    Then as now, lives and loves were likely to change, and the woman that had her trousseau, had her means and method of escape when the
    going got tough and the tough needed to get going.
    Linen with its embroidery, batiste work, its gold trimming and lace overlays, was currency that never lost its value. It could be paned off
    during hard times, or used to finance good ones. Hence all that elaborate needle-work and fine artistry by women not only biding their time for
    Mr Right, but Clevery and soberly hedging their bets if Mr Right went Wrong.
    Linen, however, is one love you never grow tired of. Especially if you discover it in humid climes and tropical downpours. Science may give us
    neoprenes and kevlars, Coolmax, and Supriva, but linen gives you a wicking system only Nature herself could contemplate. Conducting heat
    away from the skin , it allows body and soul to breathe even in the most humid and rancid of temperatures, while its natural waxiness
    contains UV properties far better than most high street sun screens.
    No mistake then, that the great travelers of Victorian England, men and women alike, pioneered the look that became synonymous with the
    British abroad. The intrepid explorer in pith helmet and linen safari jacket, or the district commissioner arriving in his white linen suit and
    looking like George Raft in Saunders of the River, coming ashore to dispense tea and good old stiff upper lip advice.
    There were also those hard-nosed millionaires’ daughters who crossed with Cunard in the ‘20s and ‘30s on the terraces of Montparnasse;
    cosmocratic women who saw linen as a liberation from the strictness of the country and class they were leaving. ‘All that wool,’ one famously
    said of another, ‘anybody would think she was married!’
    Then there was that great Hearst journalist, adventurer and bon vivante Lady Hay-Drummond-Hay, who with Dr Hugo Eckener, was the
    first woman to circumnavigate the globe in a Graf Zeppelin as vast as the Queen Mary.
    Hay-Drummond-Hay packed linen and little else, discovering in 1929, what generations of travelers have discovered since, that linen really is
    the wundercloth of the long-distance flyer. It packs well and if dry cleaning bags are slipped between garments, comes out virtually free of
    creases.
    But if creases do happen, as the good Lady Hay-Drummond_Hay discovered during a violent electrical storm when the Zeppelin was tossed
    about like a giant football, just hang the garment in the question somewhere damp for fifteen or so minutes – in the shower, or while you’re
    having a bath – and moisture and gravity will do the rest.
    But a final note on long term care – and this from a man who has more linen suits than Imelda Marcos has shoes – even if the label says
    tumble dry, or dry clean only, you should do so sparingly. Wanton abuse of this kind frays the fine mesh weave that gives linen its luster, and
    can make it look dull and lifeless. Linen dries easily and best when hung in a cool, airy room. It should always be hung, never folded –
    exposure to air maintains its smell, breathability and softness. If folded for traveling, it should be hung on arrival. Try to avoid using an iron
    that is too hot, or at least spray the linen with water beforehand to get a surface that is as smooth as slate, but doesn’t resemble it.
    Finally, if like me you have no time for such Teutonic diversions with iron and water spray, remember linen is a fabric the young and old
    forgive alike. Once in a Pall Mall club, as dead as many of its members, I heard an old gent tut-tut as the man ahead of me passed through
    into the bar with a creased blazer. ‘No respect, no respect!’ Prepared for my equally rumpled linen suit to attract the same slash and burn
    criticism, I was relieved to hear him mutter, ‘Ah now, linen, well that’s different.’ And it is.

    • mad dog Says:

      Noel
      Go organic mate! Someday we must visit Mount Noel in B.C. Do you need anything from Brussels – it is the last stop enroute Hallowell arrive Wed eve. late . See you Thurs. Inshallah

      Cannis Loco

  6. Dorota Rychlik Says:

    I am looking for a healthy quantity of linen (flax) yarn suitable for weaving. I intend to combine it with our Organic Shetland wool to produce a small edition (100 or so) of bedspreads to commemorate my Grandmother’s 100th birthday. Can you help? I am hoping for a non-Chinese and non-Indian connections initially, but bearing in mind the speed of reply from the Polish suppliers, I may have to go on to next plan. Our island farm is in Shetland, UK.

    Regards,

    Dorota

    • Paulette L. Perrien Says:

      TERRIFIC POSTS — NEED BLACK LINEN-FLAX FOR A SWEATER — ITALIAN OR GERMAN DYES ARE BEST IN TERMS OF COLOR-FAST — THANKS.

  7. Sheena Wang Says:

    We are special mill for linen fabrics and linen yarns. If you need, please contact with us. We will give you our best price and service.

  8. duvet Says:

    What a wonderful post! I am just a beginner in community management/marketing media and trying to learn how to do it well – resources like this blog are very helpful. As our company is based in the US, it’s all a little bit new to us. The example above is something that I worry about as well, how to show your own actual enthusiasm and share the fact that your product is useful in that case.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: