You might be shocked to learn that the linoleum flooring in your kitchen, and your linen yarn are manufactured from the same plant. The flax plant, or linseed plant has been cultivated by humans for 10,000 years, and is one of the most versatile cultivated plants.
Flax is an annual flowering plant. It grows to be about 3 feet tall, and it’s flowers come in a variety of colors, but the cultivated varieties are most often blue. It can be grown almost everywhere, to the point now where scientists cannot identify a point of origin, but most agree that the Egyptians were the first to cultivate flax. Flax is a very demanding plant, and it will drain the soil of its nutrients, and so can only be planted in the same soil once every six years.
The stem of the plant contains long fibrous cells, not unlike a stalk of celery. These fibers are extracted through a complex process, where the non-usable parts of the stalk are basically rotted away, exposing the fibers, which are then dried and beaten, preparing them for spinning. In ancient times, the fibers were used for just about everything, from mummy wrappings to ship’s sails. At one time, flax was being cultivated and used from India to Ireland. The Bible mentions flax several times. It made up the fabric of Joseph’s “coat of many colors” and was used to array the High Priests. In modern times, it’s often used in yarn, and the traditional of many cultures.
Fiber is not the only product of this multifaceted plant. Flaxseed oil is an ingredient in a number of foods, and as I mentioned before, it is also used in the production of linoleum. Flaxseed oil contains Omega 3 alpha linolenic acids, which, are essential to many human bodily functions. Very few plant foods contain this substance. Flaxseeds also contain soluble and insoluble fiber, and are proven to prevent several types of cancer. As anyone can tell flaxseeds are an essential part of any diet.
People have benefited from flax in too many ways to be mentioned in this brief article. It’s in your yarn. It’s in your food. It’s in your flooring. It’s even in your dog’s food.
Want to learn more? http://belovedlinens.net/fabrics/history-linen.html
Photo courtesy of 123RF.com.... Blue jeans made with linen! Flax, its EVERYWHERE :)
**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.