The seeds are great but I want the fibers

flowering flax plants ©unknown and flax fibers ©k. quiros

Did you know that real linen fabric is made by weaving the fibers of the flax plant?

Admittedly, I did not know that until recently and once again, my dive into the world of fibers has brought about another adventure.
The fibers of the flax plant have been used for a really long time to make things like rope and then, eventually, textiles. Archaeological findings date its use back 30,000 yrs. Evidence of flax domestication has been found in Egypt, India and other areas of the "old world," and it is said that it was brought to North America by early settlers.
Members of the Urban Weaver Project here in Vancouver, have launched a really neat program to show people the whole process from planting flax plants all the way to getting the fiber from the plant, saving the seeds, spinning the fiber and using it for weaving fabric, knitting, etc. Yes, of course I am joining in the fun... my drop spinning mentor happens to be the one who got the grant for the project. 
I found this awesome vintage video which shows how flax plants were processed back in the early 1900's... (NOTE: The original video which I included with this post is no longer available so I have replaced it with a new one by which was originally distributed by the State of Georgia, Department of Education's film library.)

It seems like quite a labor intensive process. Which may explain why linen is more expensive than other fabrics. The plan is to learn as much as I can about it and to share it with you. Just like with wool yarn I will continue the search for the process... how are these textiles and yarns made and where do the fibers come from?

the flax and the spindle ©k. quiros
In the mean time, while the flax plants grow in my garden and around Vancouver, I will be learning to spin flax fibers this coming Monday at the Sticks and Strings gathering.

Originally Published 4/4/13

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