ancient fiber :: modern style
The flax plant has been cultivated and used for food and fiber for thousands of years. The flax plant is native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia, explaining the fiber history of linen, spun from the fibers of the flax plant. Some of the oldest known textiles are linens that have been preserved by the arid climate of the region – of particular note are the handspun linen strips that were used in ancient Egypt to wrap the mummified remains of pharaohs and the elite.
Knowing the detailed past of this fiber, I looked forward to working with it. The modern linen industry seems to be centered in Europe now, and many of the well-known commercial fibers come from mills there.
I am using the linen to make a summer pullover – the Mottled Summer Sweater from Rebecca #36. Linen is the quintessential summer fabric, known for its coolness and its wickability. With the hot summer ahead, this is definitely something I need to consider. I chose to modify the pattern by taking out the cables. I loved them as a design feature, but with the mottled yarn, the cables looked strange and lumpy with no definition. I chose stockinette, and it is simple and beautiful. The wide v-neck was what attracted me to the pattern, and that will definitely stay in tact.
I bought this linen, Louet’s Euroflax Chunky, at this year’s Maryland Sheep and Wool festival. The Parsley colorway and the haze of the fiber (as well as its easy care instructions) drew me to it. Enough to splurge a little, as linen is not exactly a cheap fiber. I don’t regret my decision. This yarn in knitting up beautifully, and quite quickly too, as I am using size 11 needles to knit. I can see this one becoming a three-season staple for years to come.