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Flax Growing - Movie

Flax Growing

The excellence of European linen may be attributed to three beneficial factors: wellsuited soil, a favourable climate and the savoir-faire of experienced flax growers whose prime concern is quality.

The Plant

The plant has a single stalk, which grows around 1m high out of which some 80 to 100 sessile leaves sprout. The flower, most commonly blue yields a globular boll composed of 5 lobes each containing 2 seeds. Flax is a fast-growing plant, reaching maturity within 100 days. It is grown as a textile plant, for the fibres of its stalk, but also for its seeds, which produce a widely appreciated quality oil.

Scuthing

Flax textile fibres are contained within the stalk. In order to use them, it is necessary to extract them from the surrounding bast and to remove the wood at the centre of the stalk. Scutching takes place after collecting, mainly between August and December. The successive stages are rippling, drafting, breaking and finally threshing. These days, scutchers often combine hackling operations with scutching. This is traditionally the initial phase of spinning. The hackled flax comes in the form of soft ribbon with a sheen.

Spinning

Spinning flax includes all the different operations that transform the fibres into yarn. Untangling, evening out, drafting and spinning the fibres are complex stages implementing various techniques according to the raw material used and the type of yarn to be produced. There are two traditional transformation methods for the spinning of pure flax yarn:

  • Wet- spinning, using long fibres, resulting in fine yarn (to be used in clothing, household linen and so on)
  • Dry- spinning, for shorter fibres, resulting in thicker yarn (for furnishings, technical applications etc.). Ongoing improvements are being brought to properties such as finesse, tensile strength and evenness as well as the design of fancy yarn (twisting, mixes etc.), ecru, bleached and dyed yarns, using the latest finishing techniques.

Weaving

Thanks to its  unique properties, flax may be made into a very wide range of fabrics, for myriad applications, its characteristics being great quality and style. These fabrics can be manufactured in very advantageous technical and economic conditions on modern equipment. In bygone days, flax weaving was the preserve of just a few specialised weavers. Today, developments in equipment and in the quality of yarns available on the market mean that the sector has broadened, so that flax can be used to develop ever more competitively priced products. The art of weaving flax comprises two major disciplines: preparation for weaving, to mount the weft and the warp, and the actual weaving operation on the loom, during which the fabric is actually produced.

Knitting

In the past few years, European linen has made inroads into the knitting sector. Pure linen and minimum 50% linen mixes abound in the full gamut of styles, from casual to city chic. Knits are  essential items in fashion today, whether for men or women. Linen has carved out a significant market share, thanks to efforts put in by flax spinners who produce smooth, fine yarn to meet the technical requirements of industrial machinery. Circular and flatbed knitting produce high-end jerseys with a distinctive handle and sheen. Their fluid drape gives the measure of their crease resistance.

Fully-Fashioned techniques add premium to linen with exquisite finishing details, and the current craze for “hand-knitted” items gives us the chance to rediscover the charms of artisan knitting.

Finishing

Finishing includes all the treatments that modify the look of the fabric or yarn or confer added value sought by consumers, in terms of comfort, style, features and performance. These treatments may be divided into four categories:

  • Dyeing
  • Rotary, screen or inkjet printing
  • Finishing

courtesy of: masters of linen - 15, rue du louvre - 75001 paris

 
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