The experience of the cool and smooth feel of linen fabric against skin, whether sleeping in linen sheets or wearing linen clothes is too short for us, living in northern hemisphere. Because linen IS for summer. Hebe Dorsey, the famed fashion editor of The Herald Tribune once told me: "You do not want to be caught wearing linen, particularly in color white, before Memorial Day weekend or after Labor Day weekend." While that rule might be somewhat rigid, it is true that linen is identified with warm weather. Exception being table linens. Thanksgiving or Christmas table, set with linen tablecloth and softly folded napkins evokes the aura of celebration. Add hand embroidery and that event will become visual feast as well as a remembrance of past family gatherings because, in many cases, those heirloom pieces have been passed on from generation to generation.
There are very many good reasons that linen fabrics, in home textiles as well as clothing, have been going through a renaissance and growing appreciation of the properties that linen offers and why linen fabric, the most ancient of all textiles, has become a staple in many households and a preferred fiber in summer collections of leading fashion designers. Linen fiber is extracted from the flax plant and is well known for exceptional coolness and freshness. Linen will not cling to skin, allowing the body to breathe. Linen's moisture absorbent quality and ability to conduct heat make it an ideal fabric to wear or sleep in during humid summer months. Linen can absorb up to 20% moisture without feeling damp. Hence the reason why, once upon a time, linen towels were a norm. Fine quality linen will become softer and more lustrous with use. It is resistant to moth, is almost lint free, washes easily and is resistant to high temperatures. There is no natural fiber other than silk that has higher tensile strength than linen. Your set of good quality linen sheets will outlast any other sheet set that you may have. The uses of linen yarn extend to jewelry making, book binding, basket weaving, sail making, ... And let's not forget flax seed, a nutritional powerhouse. With such resume it is no wonder that linen fabrics, although more expensive than cotton are finding their way to the hearts and the skins of more and more people.