15 June, 2008

A splendid bloom

The plant of linen is a simple plant, little striking but gracious, belonging to the family of Linacee, which contains 22 kinds and more than 200 sorts, but only one, Linum usitatissimum, is cultivated and used for the fibre. His habitat is the temporate zones of Europe, from the nord to the mediterranean: IrelandFranceBelgiumSpainEgypt and Italy. The sowing-time is between the 19th and the 25th of march: so less than a week to put the little seed in the ground until the days of autumn. And than waiting. A hundred days more or less to see the little plant grow. The steel is thin and about 70 to 100 cm high. The flower can vary from pure blu to rose or white. When it reaches maturity inside a capsule is formed in which you can find more or less 20 seeds.


The seeds are very little, flat, brown-coloured and light: 1000 seeds weigh 4 to 6 grams and are rich of oil: another gift of this beneficent plant. But the true texture of linen is in the steel in which you can find the textile fibre.

At the moment of harvest the plant is uprooted and the steel is submitted to soaking in big reservoirs with heated water at 37 degrees for 48 hours. One time this process takes 8 days, it begins in the ground where the steels have contact with dawn, or in appropriate reservoirs or in running water, with anxiety, the waitings of these human beings, who have the knowledge of this steels to decide when the moment is arrived to pull the linen out of the water.


After the soaking process the wrapping of the fibres is untied from the wooden part. Today this process succeeds mechanically, but for a long time it had been a tiring handwork, that needed to be followed with attention, when the seeds were most precious and yielded the most.


In general, with 1000 kg of soaked linen you receive more or less 150 kg of long fibres, 40 kg of flax, and about 110 kg of linen seeds.


The fibres then are spined, woven, eventually colorated and transformed in the precious tissue.


            Splendid and indestructible like gold…

                        Simple and indispensable like bread…

Cit. "Fior di Lino" di Giovanna Bergamaschi Ed. Idea Libri 1985 

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