From flax to cloth’ brings old and new techniques together

It looks simple, but it’s not that easy… Yet after some fiddling and bleating most students of Fashion Design managed to make a nice thread from a tuft of flax. With a wooden spinning top, as the next step in their course ‘From flax to cloth’. Here they learn to make their own fabrics from this beautiful natural product.

Mass production in the clothing industry is very harmful to the environment. The production of cotton requires a lot of poison and water, with an average ‘water footprint’ of about 2,700 liters for a simple T-shirt. With flax, this is very different. Moreover, according to Eileen Blackmore of House of Design and It Erfskip, flax grows very well in a region like Friesland. ‘You used to have a lot of flax here. It would be great if young designers could learn how to make their own fabrics (linen) from it, which are both special and sustainable.’

Thread from a sprinkle of flax

Blackmore is closely involved with this course, which combines old and new techniques. In the sequel, students will weave a fabric with a weaving board. The program started with a visit to an ecological farmer in Engwierum, who grows flax and could tell everything about what is needed for this. Then the students saw in the flax museum It Braakhok in Ee how a fiber is made from that raw material.

And yes, then you have to make a thread from that fiber. Mirja Wark from Finsterwolde has been working with flax all her life and is happy to pass on the art of spinning to the young students in Leeuwarden. With a wooden spinning top for everyone, some water or flax paste – a glue of flax seed and water – and flax.

It looks simple, but it’s not that easy… Yet after some fiddling and bleating most students of Fashion Design managed to make a nice thread from a tuft of flax. With a wooden spinning top, as the next step in their course ‘From flax to cloth’. Here they learn to make their own fabrics from this beautiful natural product.

Mass production in the clothing industry is very harmful to the environment. The production of cotton requires a lot of poison and water, with an average ‘water footprint’ of about 2,700 liters for a simple T-shirt. With flax, this is very different. Moreover, according to Eileen Blackmore of House of Design and It Erfskip, flax grows very well in a region like Friesland. ‘You used to have a lot of flax here. It would be great if young designers could learn how to make their own fabrics (linen) from it, which are both special and sustainable.’

Thread from a sprinkle of flax

Blackmore is closely involved with this course, which combines old and new techniques. In the sequel, students will weave a fabric with a weaving board. The program started with a visit to an ecological farmer in Engwierum, who grows flax and could tell everything about what is needed for this. Then the students saw in the flax museum It Braakhok in Ee how a fiber is made from that raw material.

And yes, then you have to make a thread from that fiber. Mirja Wark from Finsterwolde has been working with flax all her life and is happy to pass on the art of spinning to the young students in Leeuwarden. With a wooden spinning top for everyone, some water or flax paste – a glue of flax seed and water – and flax.

Then it takes some practice to get the hang of the technique: fix a beginning with a pole stitch, spin not too hard and not too soft, loosen the tuft a bit and most of all make sure the thread doesn’t break under the weight of the spinning top. After half an hour of practice, the students already know how to spin a lot of threads that can be used for weaving in a next lesson.

Then it takes some practice to get the hang of the technique: fix a beginning with a pole stitch, spin not too hard and not too soft, loosen the tuft a bit and most of all make sure the thread doesn’t break under the weight of the spinning top. After half an hour of practice, the students already know how to spin a lot of threads that can be used for weaving in a next lesson.