Once upon a time linen was coloured gold in the Netherlands - something of such value it would be carried with you for your entire life. Before we start weaving, it is valuable to know what fibres we are working with… Let's have a look at its History.
100 years back in time
The brown antique linen closet was the showpiece of the sparse house, sleeping was done with four people in a tiny box bed, but there was always room for a master closet. At the time, this was the The family’s way of branding, significantly displayed and emphasised with great pride. The more self-produced linen meters were in possession, the more wealthy the family felt and was perceived. When visitors came over, the inevitable aim for the evening was to open the closet and shamelessly show off the luxurious linen. To do so all sorts of tricks were thought up such as removing the crockery from the cupboard so the closet doors were “accidentally”opened and the perfectly rolled linen meters became visible to the eye. In particularly eccentric cases, the coiled gauges were increased by attributes so that it appeared as a larger quantity.
Family Blood Sweat and Riches
Agricultural Dutch families grew the flax crops that their linen came from and were in charge of the entire production process of the textile themselves. Making the transformation truly, from the rural muddy fields to the precious linen closet. With this they experienced the entire life cycle. They grew the flax and admired the bright white or fluid purple colours from the flowers that popped up for only one single day.
It was truly a family fueled process with each family member involved striving for a full linen closet worth showing off. The families harvested the grain using the most powerful tool we humans own: our hands. The second step was the drying from the flax in the field where it had to be turned piece by piece several times. When the drying was done, the flax was peeled (seeded) and exposed to moisture to break down the pectin that holds the fibers together - the so-called “dew rotting”. The shiny golden glow the fibers held back in the day was owed to the flax being rooted in rivers or water troughs. The last step was the scuttle and berate, which was mainly the task from the girls of the house. The fiber was separated from the straw by breaking it between a tough wooden tool, after which the short remaining fibers were passed through a kind of iron comb until fine linen yarn remained - “Just like brushing hair.” Now it is ready to be woven on a typical wooden spinning or hand wheel. Just like sleeping beauty did, the only difference here is that it was done in a smelly pig sty instead of a castle tower surrounded by pink roses.
The energy-consuming, time-consuming and dirtying process is more than worth a closet full of wonderful crisp clean linen meters. The golden value linen had 100 years ago is the worth we as Generation 31 want to revisit now. We cannot wait to open the doors to our linen closet.