Lin and linen
Linen – one of man’s eternal companion
Already in the Stone Age could people in Europe preparing flax, although most appear to have been used to benefit things like ropes, fishing nets and the like. The fashion was not as developed at the time. The tablecloth, not to mention the napkin, had hardly any come to mind.
In ancient Egypt, people began to dress in beautiful and cool linen. Linen was the only material allowed the priest costumes and mummies wrapped in fine linen clothes, many of which are still preserved. From Egypt spread the knowledge of Babylon, which in ancient times was the center of “linen industry”, via Greece to the Roman Empire and on up over Europe. In the Roman Empire existed in antiquity large linspinnerier in eg Ravenna and Vienne was under strict control of the “procuratores linificiorum” which says a lot about the importance it ascribed to the material. In Sweden, we have been able to prepare the flax at least since the Bronze Age.
Well into the 1500s range to the flax on a dragonfly, a handy tool that you can still see Oriental women to master the virtousitet. Around 1530 came the spinning wheel and put more speed on lintillverkningen. Flax production was long a craft. When the machines came in the late 1700s also came flax’s main competitor -bomullen. Better machines arrived, which was also suitable for the linen industry. In 1805, Joseph Marie Jacquard built his epoch-making machine for weaving patterns, which among other things gave the old, fine damask weaving new possibilities.
Linet has faced severe competition from simpler and cheaper materials and more than once it has been thought that it would disappear completely. Flax quality and beauty value have finally overcome all the “innovations”, including the later years of synthetic fibers. Now it appears the flax join a new heyday to meet – in a world heading back towards the quality of thinking and beautiful things. Lin is an unrivaled material – in skilled professional hands.
Damask – weaving fit for a prince
The artistic weaving technique known as damask is said to have first been created in Damascus, from where it has also derived its name. It was the fabric woven for the fine clothing of princes and for purely decorative purposes. Today, damask is still regarded as one of the most elegant woven cloths.
Damask is usually of a uniform colour, with the pattern and/or design formed in warp satin on a ground of weft satin or the other way around. The effect is produced by the light being reflected in different ways from the warp and weft surfaces so that the pattern either appears glossy against a mat ground or mat against a glossy ground. The techniques may also be used for patterns with two colours, with an extremely elegant effect as result.
To cultivate, dress, spin and weave linen is an ancient art in Sweden, but the art of weaving patterned linen was hardly known here before the seventeenth century. Though, of course, the “hey-day” of lovers of beautiful things tempted skilful weavers here too. Queen Hedvig Eleonora ordered a large amount of tablecloths and napkins from some weavers in Stockholm in the year of 1696. This ensured that the Swedish linen damask industry got properly underway. Three napkins have in fact been preserved from the beginning of the eighteenth century showing the Queen’s crest, name in ciphers and with “three crowns” woven into.
Today, Klässbols weaving mill delivers tablecloths and napkins of linen damask with the Swedish “three crowns” woven into it, to Swedish embassies all over the world.
Pure and Cotton Linen
Flax has long fibres, making it very suitable for spinning and weaving, and it has been used for making cloths for nine thousand years. In the 18th century in Sweden, there were several famous damask weaving mills and the countryside was covered with breathtakingly beautiful blue-flowering flax fields. When cotton replaced linen as the most commonly used material for textiles, the labour-intensive and time-consuming production of linen fell by the wayside.
Flax is no longer cultivated in Scandinavia, except on a very small scale, but linen itself, is enjoying a renaissance. A new awareness of nature and natural values has taken a strong hold. In line with this, a growing number of people who value tradition have also come to appreciate the unique qualities of linen.
Pure linen fabrics are made only from linen yarn. The structure of the flax fibre gives the linen its many excellent qualities. It is extremely strong and absorbent, and its smoothness and lustre make it very dirtrepellent. Liquid spilled on a linen cloth is absorbed immediately. Linen feels cool and pleasant against the skin. It also dries quickly, and pure linen towels are superb for drying drinking glasses and for polishing crystal and silverware.
Klässbols also make cotton linen, or half linen, a fabric made with a cotton yarn warp and a linen yarn weft. Table-cloths and towels made from cotton linen are soft and cool. They retain the very good drying and absorption characteristics of the linen. And you can enjoy the luxury of using them every day.