White clothes bring to mind the hot, humid tropic climates and the need for something light that helps the body to breathe. Think of Katherine Hepburn in the “African Queen” or Meryl Streep in Africa. Linen clothes breathe and soften and become more comfortable with any wear.
Flax is cultivated for its fibers from which linen yarns and fabrics are made. Flax is a plant and has two main varieties.
The first variety that is also the one we are interested in is cultivated for its fibers and is called textile. While the second variety is cultivated for its seeds from where the linseed oil comes from. The height of the plant used for textiles reaches one and a half meters.
The fabrics produced from flax are the well-known linen fabrics, of exceptional quality. Flax fibers have low elasticity and hard texture and this is the reason why linen fabrics are easily crumpled and ironing is very difficult. With special treatments, however, this problem is reduced.
Linen is one of the oldest textiles in the world. It is cool to the touch, smooth and it gets softer with repeated washing.
The origin of linen fabrics comes from Asia. Samples of linen fabrics have been found in excavations in excellent condition and date from the Neolithic era. In Egypt in 3400 BC. they made linen fabrics and clothes. In the pyramids some of the mummies were wrapped in thin strips of linen cloth because they symbolized light and purity as well as wealth. Linen was so valuable in ancient Egypt that it was used as a currency in some cases. From Egypt flax spread to other Mediterranean countries and then to the rest of Europe.
The Bible also refers to linen fabrics. Most Jewish clothing was either woolen or linen. The Israelites, although apparently making their own linen cloth, imported a quantity of linen from Egypt. — Prov 7:16.
Linen fabrics differed in quality, as indicated by the fact that the Bible speaks of “fine linen” and “fine fabrics.” (Ezek. 16:10; 27:16) The rich, kings, and high-ranking officials wore exclusively high-quality linen.
How to maintain linen fabric
It is preferable for linen fabrics to be washed by hand or soft wash in the washing machine. Avoid dry cleaning and wash the linen in lukewarm soft water with mild soap. Avoid drying them directly under the sun, as this can dry out their fibers. Spread them in a shady place until they are completely dry. Linen fabric has a beautiful wrinkle appearance and may not be ironed if spread properly fresh. If you want to iron them, prefer the fabric to be a little damp. Use steam when ironing at a medium-warm temperature. Store linen in a cool, dry place. Do not use plastic bags and cardboard boxes for storage.
Happy linen day!