What plant is linen (fabric) made out of?

From time to time my husband and I get into a conversation and up pops a question. When we can't agree on the answer or we don't have an answer, I usually tell him, "I'll research that and get back to you." So, this section is dedicated to the topics I told him I'd research and get back to him on.

*This section is not intended to give definitive answers to anything. This is just for fun and most, if not all of my research came from the internet. I have tried to provide a bibliography so you can check out my sources.*

Linen is one of the oldest fabrics and it comes from the flax plant. (1.)  Flax "is native to the region extending from eastern Mediterranean to India" (2). To get the fiber, which is spun into thread that is turned into the fabric, the flax plant must be soaked until the hard stem rots away, leaving the fibers that are later spun. (1.)

"People were spinning and weaving linen by 5000 BC, even before wool" (1). Because linen is so much softer than wool, people preferred to wear linen against their skin and wool over the linen to keep themselves worm. This common practice lead to the word linen meaning something similar to underwear. (1.) "Our word 'lingerie' is related to" the word linen (1).

Flax has many uses. "Various parts of the plant have been used to make fabric, dye, paper, medicines, fishing nets and soap" (2). In addition, flax seeds can also be eaten and vegetable oil known as linseed oil can also be made from flax (2). Although, I'm not sure if all varieties of flax produce seeds and vegetable oil that are safe for human consumption. 



1. Copyright 1998-2007 Dr. Karen Carr. Associate Professor of History, Portland State  University. "History of Linen." http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/clothing/linen.htm. Page last updated Friday, November 10, 2006. July 23, 2008.

2. Flax http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flax Page last modified on 21 July 2008, at 09:25


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