Pale blue petals that give way to golden, willowy stalks, the flax plant, is the oldest cultivated fiber in history. When woven into cloth, the flax fibers form a lightweight, hardwearing and naturally antibacterial fabric that many of us have come to know and love. Linen was established by the ancient Egyptians, who despite the laborious process, cherished it for its breathability, durability and luxurious texture. They prized it so much that when King Tut’s tomb was discovered, they found linen still completely intact, passing the true test of time. How incredible is that?
Due to the ideal ocean climate and rich soil, flax quickly became the leading crop in Western Europe. These unique conditions produce strong, lustrous and long fibers that made their flax exceptionally robust. As the world's strongest natural fiber, far stronger than cotton, the durability of linen allows for every towel or garment to be extremely long-lasting (points for this earth-friendly powerhouse). It is also one of the only fibers that become stronger when wet and smoother to the touch, with more use. Like a fine wine, linen truly gets better with age!
Becoming a way of life for many Western Europeans, cultivation of the flax plant was mastered as their crops flourished and demand grew. Textile and weaving processes of linen were expertly honed for bathing, bedding and clothing. Still to this day, their life’s work and traditions of many European flax farmers are passed down from generation to generation. Flax that is grown or woven anywhere else, simply does not yield the same results, making Western European flax and linen the finest quality in the world! We are proud to work directly with the farmers and producers when it comes to our in house linen offerings.
There are countless benefits of linen, here are a few reasons we love it.
It’s naturally sustainable.
When compared to cotton and synthetic fabrics, flax uses less water and leaves behind significantly less waste. Its biodegradable properties make it one of the most earth-friendly crops and no part of the plant is left behind. Seeds, stems, and flowers are all used to produce food, paper, and other materials.
The hollow and open structure of linen makes it a naturally insulated fiber. This means it keeps you feeling light and breezy on a hot summer day, as well as warm and cozy on a cold winter’s evening.
As we mentioned earlier, its long fibers and intricate weaves make linen one of the most durable fabrics, about 30% stronger than cotton and synthetic fabrics. Like your favorite pair of denim jeans, linen gets better, softer and stronger with every wash!
It’s highly absorbent.
As opposed to breaking down like most synthetic fabrics, linen becomes stronger when exposed to moisture. It can absorb mass amounts of moisture making it perfect for damp, humid environments (hello, Oregon)! The high absorption rate also helps to prevent bacterial growth, perfect for kitchen and bathroom use.
Due to the naturally occurring fibers and non-abrasive, supple texture, linen is a great option for those with skin sensitivities. Its loose fibers make it less prone to capturing dust and pollen helping to alleviate seasonal allergies. Many people who suffer from skin conditions such as Psoriasis and Eczema, swear by the impact of swapping out cotton bedding and towels with linen ones. The antibacterial properties of the fiber help soothe irritated skin.
Chemicals, dyes, bleaches and toxins not only harm mama earth but can harm our families as well. When labeling textiles, companies can legally use the term ‘organic’ when the crop is grown organically but still processed with toxic chemicals. Interesting, right? At Manna, we’ve sought out materials that go beyond organic to ensure that you can confidently invite our linens into your home - and leave the toxins out.
Oeko-Tex is an organization that rigorously tests and certifies the safety and purity of textile products, from the start to the end of the production process. Not only do they test for harmful substances, but they also take into consideration the social and environmental conditions in production facilities. Being Oeko-Tex certified ensures that the fabrics are risk-free to human health on all levels. We are so honored to provide beautiful, Oeko-Tex certified linens to our customers. Every member of our Manna team utilizes these towels within their own homes. The beautiful array of colors may vary, but the luxury and quality do not.
Our stonewashed linen bath sheets and hand towels are sourced from some of the oldest manufactures in Lithuania, where flax is grown and Oeko-Tex certified linens are produced. They are woven just down the street, by a 4th generational family of weavers. Each fiber is passed through their hands and carefully woven, saluting their grandparent's teachings: “none of the machines will change the human-master who adds to linen garment his heart and warmth.”
We hope this information has shed some golden light and clarity on the beloved textile that is linen! Should you want to add to your existing collection or begin to transition to the line, our team would love to see you in Manna walk with you through the process as you pick out the perfect pallet for your family and home!
Golden Flax photo by sondeflor.com