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From Flaxseed to Our Clothes

There is so many reasons we love linen and we share that passion with you. But also, we are happy that we exactly know the journey of our garment from the very beginning to the final product, whatever it is, dress, shorts, shirt or shawl. We are proud to share with you how NinisAndFamily sustainable linen clothes come to be from flaxseed. We want you to know exactly what you and your children are wearing, and feel confident that it’s good for you, your little ones, and the planet.

So let's start. From the flax seed to sustainable clothes.

It is and always has been a long haul from the delicate blue flower to finished linen cloth. No other textile raw material requires such long-winded and complicated preparation as flax - the linen plant. It is sown from the middle of March; when in bloom it has delicate sky-blue flowers and is fully mature after 100 days. It is a fast-growing plant which toward the end of the growing period grow a full 5 cm (about 2 inches) per day. But for that Flax requires 600 mm of water over 100 days of growing—all of which is provided by rain and dew. It loves cooler weather, humidity, rich soil. That's the reason why it is cultivated in a moderate climate. That saves water and resources. Lithuania is in perfect geographical position for flax cultivation. So naturally, flax has been growing here for thousands of years and spinning and weaving of it is part of our cultural heritage.

In addition, an interesting fact is as it grows, flax captures and converts CO2 from the atmosphere. Every year, the growing of flax in Europe results in the capture of 250,000 tons of CO2—equivalent to driving a Renault Clio around the earth 62,000 times.


Cultivation

Harvesting occurs about five weeks after flowering. It's called "pulling" rather than harvesting because the flax is literally pulled out of the ground rather than cut down, in order to preserve the length of the fibers contained within its stem. The longer fibers result in a smoother fabric in the end. The roots of the flax plants remain in the ground, where they naturally enrich the soil. The seeds are extracted in the process of pulling and can be used for the following season's sowing or for making nutritional products as it contains a lot of fibers, oils, and minerals. The pulled plants are then laid on the ground in swathes for the retting process.
Retting: Retting is the process of separating the fibers by breaking down the natural cement that binds them to the straw. This natural process is performed by microorganisms present in the soil, a suitable dose of rain, and zero chemicals. Retting used to be done in rivers, but since the 1950s it has been done directly in the fields to further protect the environment. Non-certified growers might use chemicals for this process, and although these chemicals make for faster processing, they produce lower quality linen and are harmful to the environment and you. That is why using certified linen is important.


Harvest

After retting, the flax is rippled, meaning the stem is separated from the seeds. Afterward the flax straw has to be dried once again so that through further treatments such as ginning, breaking, scutching, and heckling, the woody parts of the stem may be broken more easily and the last impurities can be removed. Only when this whole process is complete can the flax fibers be processed in the spinning mill to make yarn. The linen is then bleached (but not all, because we do use natural unbleached linen for some of our garments too) in accordance with strict European environmental rules which favor peroxide- rather than chlorine-based argents.


Processing

For thousands of years, the weaving process has remained the same. Only the equipment used to manufacture the fabric has undergone constant development. Linen weaving has been perfected over generations in Lithuania. And even now it is done in a local Lithuanian textile mill that specializes in weaving flax linen for many many years. In our home closet, we have some blankets that have been weaved by our relatives decades ago in the same mill from which we now get our linen. It is also, certified for Oeko-Tex 100® . This is a guarantee that the flax yarn is fully traceable back to its European growers and meets the most stringent European standards of sustainability and elimination of harmful chemicals in production.


Weaving

The woven fabric then is wash using special softeners and enzymes to create a fabric with a soft and supple texture.And finally, the fabric is finally ready to be sewn and manufactured into fine linen clothes, blankets, etc. in our little workshop.

As you see, a lot of labor goes into growing flax and processing it into linen, but it is a labor of love based on proud traditions and one that is fundamentally eco-friendly.


Finishing and sewing


And here is a beautiful video that illustrated all this path in real modern life. Take a look :)






And there is another one (in Lithaunanian language), that shows a bit how it was made in the past. It is part of our old traditional crafts that we intend to save:





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