Why is linen so special?
Linen is actually one of the first known textiles in production, dating back to around 36,000BC! The Ancient Egyptians loved linen and endowed the fabric with mythical properties, reserving it for only the wealthiest individuals. They used it to wrap the mummified corpses of their Pharaohs and when the tomb of Pharaoh Ramses II was discovered a linen wrap was found preserving the corpse, probably originating from around 9,000BC.
Most of the world's linen production at the moment is found in Ireland and in Western Europe, from Caen in Northern France to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. There are smaller producers in Poland, Denmark, Germany, Lithuania and Latvia and a little in Russia and China but it is the unique climate of Northern Europe which produces the finest flax.
The Phoenicians brought linen to Ireland in the 12th Century and in 1711 the Board of Trustees of Linen Manufacturers of Ireland was established to control production and classification and to establish Ireland as a centre of luxury linen production.
French and Belgian linen has always been prized for it quality and the Masters of Linen Mark exists to ensure that the highest standards of production are maintained.
Linen is a marvel fabric. It has a beautiful lustre and a smoothness that just can't be replicated in other fabrics. It’s often thought of as precious and delicate but it’s extremely durable and strong and one of the few fabrics that is stronger wet than dry. It can withstand high temperatures with only moderate initial shrinkage which means that it can be laundered at higher than normal temperatures if needed. Leave it to line dry in the sun and it will bleach itself white. Linen is one of the few fabrics that is anti-bacterial and naturally mildew resistant. It won't smell even when left a little damp.
One of the ways to tell linen from other fibres is to splash a drop of water on it. If it goes straight through to the other side, then it's linen, because linen is almost twice as absorbent than any other fabric. If the water takes a second or two to permeate, then it is more likely to be a blend or a cotton. Linen is less likely to cling as a thicker fabric would and as it dries out it becomes cool to the touch and billowy. Linen doesn’t stretch either and is extremely resistant to abrasion.
Linen is cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold. This will delight those who have problems sleeping, particularly those who have a generally hot constitution or who are suffering symptoms of the menopause. There’s nothing like sleeping on absorbent linen sheets when those night sweats hit! Warm fabric generally relies on weight to do the job but linen doesn’t have to rely on weight to be warm. It’s unique properties make it warm and it truly is suitable for every season.
What does all this mean for you?
Linen is cool in the heat and warm in the cold. This makes it perfect for bedlinen, both summer and winter. It’s absorbent and non-clingy, perfect for those of us who have hot nights or a partner who needs more or less cover than we do.
Linen sheets don’t begin to wear in areas of abrasion like the foot of the bed. Cotton or cotton blend sheets will always begin to show signs of wear after a couple of years but I have vintage linen sheets that have been in constant rotation for more than 30 years that have yet to show any signs of wear.
Linen is easy care. Stains and any discolouration can be bleached out by the sun and washed out at high temperatures. No chemical stain removal needed!
Linen is highly absorbent and so less is more. Towels are thinner, beach towels are less bulky but neither will become smelly or mildewy with constant use, either at home or on holiday.
Linen is not produced using any other chemicals. Our flannels can be used on even the most sensitive skin and will gently lift off the day's make-up without irritating the skin.
Linen doesn’t shed it's fibres and so is lint free. Linen cloths are perfect for drying glass, fine china, cutlery and crockery because it won’t leave a trace or a smear. A good linen handkerchief is the finest lens wipe there is!