Linen, produced from the flax plant, is the oldest textile plant cultivated in Europe, with its earliest uses dating back to 8000BC. Soil suitability, a favourable climate and a long tradition of flax growing makes the flax grown in Europe the best in the world.
Linen is inherently beneficial – thermo-regulating (insulating in winter, cooling & breathable in summer), non-allergenic, anti-bacterial, fully bio-degradable and recyclable. It is soft to the touch, luxuriously comfortable & extraordinarily durable (it is the strongest of all natural fibres). It absorbs dampness & dries quickly; it is anti-static and its non-allergenic qualities recommend it to both adults and children. It is three times stronger and five times more resistant to rubbing than cotton. It lasts a considerable length of time without losing its shape or pilling & becomes softer with successive washing.
Linen owes its ecological superiority over many other textile fibres to its all-natural farming procedures. In fact, the humble flax plant is somewhat a miracle of nature: it is a renewable crop, requiring no irrigation and very little in the way of pesticides or fertilisers (five times less than required for cotton) as it is rotationally planted and hence does not exhaust the soil.
Flax produces no waste and a range of by-products (in addition to linen), such as paper pulp, linseed oil and shive (used in insulation boards). Flax seeds are delicious sprinkled on cereals and salads, boosting taste and health.
Masters of Linen is the promotional subsidiary of the European Flax and Hemp Confederation (CELC), an association representing the parties involved in every stage of the flax-linen supply chain in Western Europe. The organisation operates from Paris, liaising with a network of specialists in the US, Italy and the UK, and national professional bodies in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom ….and many others.
The Masters of Linen label, registeredas a trademarkin over 60 countries, is only granted to linen products produced in Europe meeting specified origin and quality standards. Masters of Linen accreditation is thus a guarantee thatflax and linen grown and processed in the European Union is in compliance with environmental and social standards and that the linen quality is measured by strict criteria including such issues as dimensional stability on laundering and dry cleaning; colour fastness to light, to laundering, to solvents, to hot pressing, to rubbing, to perspiration; resistance to tearing and to abrasion; propensity to pilling and seam slippage. Learn more at www.mastersoflinen.com
CoCo Coast to Country Linen products are easily maintained either by washing (unless otherwise specified) or dry cleaning. All CoCo Coast to Country Linen products are supplied with care instructions - both on the packaging and sewn inside the finished product - and it is important that these are followed as the care instructions are tailored to the weaving or finishing process of each item and detail the type of cleaning agent that may (or may not) be used.
Following are guidelines for linen care that are valid for most linens:
It is preferable to wash linen items that are in direct contact with skin with water - especially items such as handkerchiefs, sheets or apparel garments. In fact, the more it is washed, the softer and brighter it becomes as the linen fibre structure reflects light.
Wash preferably on the reverse side of the fabric, particularly in the case of delicate colors and embroideries. Use a specific detergent for coloured items. Wash coordinated items together, preferably on the reverse side. In the case of household linen before the first use, it's generally advised to soak the item in cold water for a few hours before washing in order to soften the fabric and enhance the colours.
Select a warm-water and a moderate spin-drying programme – usually 40°C or 60°C temperature according to the specific care instructions supplied.
Whether washed by hand or machine, always rinse linen well, to prevent oxidation stains Place delicate or fragile items, e.g. hemstitched, embroidered or fringed items, inside a pillow case before putting them in the washing machine. Linen can be dried in various ways: line-dried, in the dryer (only if recommended) or wrapped in towelsIroning on the reverse side while still damp is much easier and gives excellent results.
The item is best ironed while still damp using a very hot iron. Check that the iron base is clean and smooth for fast and perfect ironing (mineral deposits stain the fabric) Starching isn't necessary: when ironed, the body and crunch of linen is restored. Iron the reverse side first and then the top side - except in the case of fragile items such as hemstitched, embroidered or fringed items which should be ironed on the reverse side only.
Linen clothes folded in a suitcase and wrapped in a plastic bag will refresh well if hung in the bathroom: the steam helps to smooth the folds.
The growing cycle is short and sweet with only around 100 days between sowing and harvesting. The plant ripens into a golden yellow and then flowers, dotting the fields with blooms of violet, blue and white. The display is over quickly however for each flax plant flowers for one day only.
Much of the fibre processing – the first stage of linen production - is natural, using neither solvents nor water. After harvesting flax is left in the field - termed retting - to allow the fibre to separate via an hydrolising process induced by sun and rain. Linen thus enjoys “vintage” years according to the weather and any other variations in local conditions.
Scutching takes place after harvesting and retting and is a mechanical operation in which the flax fibres are separated from the straw (shives) and then graded into the short fibres (tow) - used for the coarser yarns and into the longer fibres (line) for the finer yarns.
The art of weaving flax involves in the first instance, the mounting of the weft and warp yarn in preparation for weaving followed by the weaving operation on the loom during which the fabric is produced.