From flax to linen - Spinning

Learn how flax fibres are spun into linen thread in part three of our blog series "From Flax to Linen".

In our last two blog posts, we joined flax on its journey from sowing to harvest and the preparation of its fibres. Now let’s have a look at how linen thread is made from these flax fibres.


The long fibres that are broken loose from the flax straw during scutching are refined and prepared for spinning in the heckling phase.
This process is especially important for spinning. The scutched flax is guided through combs on the heckling machine, separating and mechanically refining the fibre bundle. If irregularities occur in the sliver, they cannot be removed later during spinning.
The heckled flax is composed not of individual fibres but of fibre bundles, the individual fibres of which are held together with plant-based glue.



By laying the ends of the bundle on top of one another, a sliver is formed and pulled through needle comb panels.
Repeated doubling and stretching creates a uniform fibre tape.
This is then processed on the pre-spinning machine to create a spun roving thread that is as fine as possible.
It is then further processed on the spinning machine.
Fine linen thread needs to be spun wet. Only coarse thread from tow can be spun dry, and medium-rough thread must be spun semi-wet.
The plant glues that adhere the individual fibres are softened due to the moisture.
The thread becomes smoother and more uniform than that of dry or semi-wet spun flax thread.
In wet spinning, the roving is passed through a hot water bath before passing through the drafting system.

Flax cannot be completely evenly spun. Linen thread is typically bumpy and fuzzy, giving linen its unique character.
For warp thread, however, the linen must be spun thin and as smooth as possible. During weaving, the warp yarn is affected by the loom. Any bumps or nubs on the yarn carry the risk of it breaking.
Therefore, only the finest bast of the uppermost part of the stalk is used for warp thread and spun wet with high thread twists.
This enormous amount of care and effort explains why fine-threaded linen, in which both the warp and weft are made of linen, is more expensive than half-linen or other textiles.
finished linen thread



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