Textile Encyclopedia

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Linen

Linen is a cellulosic fiber originating from the bast surrounding the stem of the flax plant. The flax plants are cultivated and grown in such a way as to produce long, thin stems. The plant is pulled from the ground for processing. The non-fibrous material in the stem is rotted away in a process called “retting.” Once retting is complete, the fibrous mass is rinsed and dried. The fiber is separated from the woody portion of the decomposed material by breaking and “scutching” (also known as scraping). “Hackling” refers to combing the scutched fibers to separate the long and short fibers. The fiber is then spun, and S-twist is inserted to produce linen thread.