Linen and birch
Flax is a very difficult material to produce even at the industrial level, requiring a multitude of steps in the production process.
A healthy flax plant will grow from 90 to 120 cm in height, with hundreds of bundles of fibers inside a stem. After the stems are harvested, they are left to dry and then soaked in water for a few weeks. After that, the flax is put back to dry. Nowadays, this process can be done on an industrial scale. However, manually, the process can take up to several months.
The outer shell is removed from the bundle of fibers by a violent mechanical process, in which a bundle of flax is taken and beaten with a wooden knife.
There are two stages to this process. First, the fibers, which are still tangled and have pieces of bark left in them, are combed – respectively they are pulled through a bed of nails to straighten and clean them. Once this step is done, the flax can be spun into yarns.
Being a difficult process, the cost of processing and manufacturing linen textile material is higher than most fabrics. It involves a lot of work and time.
There is a current trend that encourages the production and use of natural fibers, giving them back the importance they once had. Phenomena such as Slow Movement, which includes design, (Slow Design), textiles (Slow Textiles), and fashion (Slow Fashion), have placed more emphasis on manual production, materials from sustainable sources and clothing that resists time.
- Linen becomes softer and more pleasant with each wash.
- It is non-allergenic, non- static, lint-free and does not require ironing.
- It adjusts the heat exchange between the body temperature and the air temperature, thus it can be worn in all seasons.
- It can absorb moisture up to 20% of its own weight, feeling still dry to the touch.
- Linen is one of the oldest fabrics in the world. Mummies have been found wrapped in linen shrouds dating as far back as 4500 B.C.
- The word “lingerie” comes from the French term “linge” which means “linen”
- Flax is a rare product, fiber accounting for 1% of the world’s textile fiber production.
- It is natural, biodegradable and recyclable.
The birch is a beech tree, up to 25 meters high, with a golden-brown bark on shoots and young trees, the bark of which gradually turns white, and when aging it cracks and shows its black tissue. It is also recognised by the serrated edge of the leaves, its leaves that turn yellow in autumn, before falling. It is a curiosity that male flowers are also present in winter. The female ones appear in spring, and in August the small and winged seeds are scattered by the wind.
There are 40 species of birches in the Northern Hemisphere, and ours is called the silver birch. It stretches from Europe to North Asia, ie Kazakhstan, Siberia, northwest China, but also in Iran, Iraq and Turkey. It is tolerant to cold climates, so in the south it is found at higher altitudes. It was also introduced to North America.
The birch crown allows sunlight to penetrate to the base of the forest, which allows a grassy green carpet to grow and a great wealth of insects, as well as insectivorous birds: macaws, dwarfs, forest strips. In Germany there are 500 species of insects on birch trees, of which 130 feed on different parts of it.
Birch wood is used in the furniture industry (veneer, parquet, plywood), for shingles and as firewood. In the spring, in many Nordic countries, birch sap is harvested (as Canadians harvest maple sap) which is tonic, tastes sweet and is consumed as a refreshing juice, vinegar or beer. The bark has beneficial therapeutic effects in a large number of digestive, lung and kidney diseases, and in traditional medicine the infusion of birch bark is used as a diuretic. Birch is resistant to pollutants, so it is used successfully in plantations near industrial waste dumps.
Birch is the national tree of Russia, being present in painting, literature and cinema. It is celebrated in early June during Green Week. It was the dominant image of Sergei Esenin’s poems, being later transformed into the image of the Russian spirit. The famous Matryoshka dolls are made of birch wood. It is also the national symbol of Norway and Finland, and in Czech the name of March comes from it.