Linen. I love it, mostly in the context of interior furnishings but I’ve also found it to be an incredible fibre to wear. My linen shorts and tees have been washed over and over, getting better with age. Can you think of another fibre that ages as gracefully as linen?
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO LOVE ABOUT LINEN?
- Very durable (30% stronger than cotton)
- High-moisture absorbency (why it is better than cotton for tea towels)
- Hypo-allergenic and highly breathable (why it makes great clothing and sheeting)
- Structurally sound so fibres keep their shape (great for cushions and upholstery)
- Moth resistant, rot resistant
- Gets stronger when wet
- Becomes softer and more pliable the more it is washed (SUCH a bonus)
- Biodegradable when un-dyed
- Less water and chemicals in production than any other fibres (except maybe hemp)
Watch out for lower quality linen, sometimes the result of the processing method, shorter fibre lengths, or stone-washing to create the lived-in look quickly. (Cheaply priced linen might be an indicator….)
The production of linen uses 5-20 times less water than cotton and synthetics – that’s huge!
The growing and processing of flax can be done without added chemicals however to speed up the retting process (part of fibre processing) chemicals might be added. Still, this is significantly less than for standard cotton production.
When linen is un-dyed it is fully biodegradable. So the natural colours like ivory, ecru, tan and grey will likely mean the fabric is in its natural state. Bleaching is required to create pure white linen so this is not as environmentally friendly.
Nothing from the plant is wasted; think linseed oil and flax seeds.
In summary, the growing, processing, spinning and weaving of linen has very little impact on the environment.
WHERE DO WE FIND THE BEST QUALITY LINEN?
Belgium and Normandy in France are considered to have the ideal climate for growing flax, but other parts of Europe, including Ireland ,are known for their high quality plants. (As an aside, the New Zealand flax plant is a totally different species to European flax.) All of the cushions, throws, tea towels and hand towels sold at The Coastal Cabin are made from linen, for all the reasons above. Yes I love the look and feel of it - the slubby texture, the obvious weave, the tendency to wrinkle, and its relaxed, coastal feel - but the sustainable nature of this fibre is just as important (maybe more actually....)
As always, thanks for reading. Kim x