Thursday, 12 November 2009

Fascinating facts about flax

Flax, Linum usitatissimum, is one of the oldest crops in the world and was extensively used in Ancient Egypt. 30,00 year old fibres have been found in Palaeolithic caves in the Republic of Georgia.

Linen is the name given to the very strong natural fabric made from flax.

Lawn (delicate and transparent) and cambric (very fine and tightly woven) are both forms of linen.

Linen velvet is cool and produces a vintage crushed velvet effect.

Crinolines were made from horsehair and linen, stiffened by a framework of steel hoops.

Linen union is made from a mixture of cotton and linen.

Linen takes a dye well because it is a hollow fibre.

Linen canvas for painters provides a smooth and strong surface that lasts.

It is said that linen sheets help people fall asleep more rapidly and that the sleep will be deeper and more refreshing.

Flax plants grow to approximately one metre in height, with the roots extending about the same amount in the soil.  The roots are left after harvest, and that improves the state of the soil.

One hectare (2.5 acres) of flax can produce 20,000 km of thread.

The seeds of flax produce a vegetable oil called linseed oil, one of the components in linoleum as well as being used in paint, varnish and putty.

Flax seed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Flax needs far fewer pesticides and fertilizers than cotton, and no irrigation.  Processing is mechanical and uses neither solvents nor water.

Retting the flax to separate out the fibres can be done by using water but leaving the flax in the field produces a finer fibre, far less pollution, and uses fewer resources.

Flax waste is used in insulation boards.

Fishing rods, tennis rackets, chairs, bicycles, can be, and are, all made using linen composites.

In the language of flowers, one of the meanings for flax is "I feel your kindness".  It is turning out to be not only an ancient crop but, as a result of its kindness to the environment, one for the future too.

From November 4 to 7, the European Confederation for Flax and Hemp (CELC) held its annual congress in Strasbourg: Natural fibres, innovation and sustainable development.
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  1. Fantastic information! I knew linen came from Flax but did not realise how useful this plant is. God has given us so many things to make use of, and a simple wee plant can do so much!
    I think I will start planting them in the window box right away!

    Greta post and pic this.

  2. I had no idea that flax was that useful, I knew it was used in Irish Linen but that was about it... am fascinated and such a pretty flower as well xx

  3. How interesting! I didn't know so much about flax. I wonder if it would grow here in the US where we have such cold winters.

  4. Far more useful then I knew before reading your post. Linen, though always makes me groan...I hate ironing, and it is a fabric always in need of an iron it seems. lol

    Do swing by for a visit, the welcome mats always out.

  5. @Adullamite, ideal for the window box - no need for curtains! Another use for them.

    @Sage, I had no idea either. I came across the information by accident and was really fascinated.

    @Karen, I believe it does grow in the US. One of the other things I found out was that there is a town called Flaxton in North Dakota named after the flax growing there.

    @Sandy, I hate ironing too and to make it worse, as soon as you put anything linen on, you might almost as well not have bothered ironing it.

  6. interesting and informative post on flax. I didn't know it's so useful.
    I dislike wearing linen because it is unsightly when it is wrinkled. And the ironing... yucks.

  7. So there is a flower called flax too? I didn't know that. I also didn't know about the many items made from flax. Very interesting to know that we still make use of natural products.

  8. building supplies30 December 2009 at 07:48

    I never knew regarding the source of linen. It is fantastic to know that it has been in use from centuries and extracted from Flax, one of the oldest crop of the world. I am also amazed to know regarding the wide usage of the fabric in varied fields.


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