SAINT AUGUSTINE -. Linen was ideally suited to the temperate European climate. While cotton required heat to grow, linen adapted well to the growing conditions in Europe. Russia is the biggest producer of linen today, with Europe’s production second. The linen produced in western Europe is considered to be superior, because it is grown under ideal conditions and manufactured according to strict standards of quality.
If you were to create the perfect fiber, much of what you’d ask for is present in linen. Its unique combination of strength and beauty as well as its legendary comfort are but two of its many attributes. The fact that it’s prone to wrinkling seems to be a small price to pay, given its other charms. In the past, I have complained a lot about how linen wrinkles, but maybe I just didn’t appreciate it enough or understand it.
Linen is labor intensive to harvest and produce, and its suitability for household, interior, and fashion fabrics makes it irresistible. Its absorbent properties are legendary; it can absorb up to 20% of its weight before feeling damp. It easily release its moisture (its core is hollow, and under a microscope, resembles bamboo), making it the coolest fabric to wear. Now in Florida, that matters.
Its smooth fibers with their anti-static properties repel dirt. In fact, the fiber sheds a microscopic layer with every laundering. Not only is soil carried away, but a fresh surface is also exposed. Linen’s fibers do not fray or rub, so neither lint nor static is created. The list of its other qualities is impressive; It is fade resistant, colorfast, softer and stronger when used, mildew and moth resistant, and non-allergenic. Its durability is unmatched.
When you put all these attributes together they equal one fine fabric. The processing of flax into fiber is ecologically sound. And next week I will tell you why. I think linen has become the new “cliff hanger.” This is exciting stuff.