I have taken an interest in fabric lately, so I decided to do some mini-research papers on what I found. Natural fabrics can be made from plant fibers (cotton, hemp, bamboo) or animal fibers (wool, silk, camel hair).
Flax fibers were once one of the most common fabric fibers, making linen. Flax plants are depicted on ancient tomb walls, dates back hundreds of years in Europe and was brought to North America by the Puritans. Most flax produced in the USA is for the production of linseed oil or flaxseeds for human nutrition.
Flax fiber is extracted from the bast or skin of the stem of flax plant. Flax fiber is soft, lustrous and flexible. It is stronger than cotton fiber but less elastic. If you have ever had linen garments you are familiar with their fine, straight weave, how the fabric gets softer with wear and the danger of major shrinkage. Fine linen produces damasks, lace and sheeting. Coarser grades are used to make twine and rope. Flax fiber is also a raw material for the high-quality paper industry for the use of printed banknotes, which is why a dollar bill survives in your pants pocket on a trip through the washing machine. I am sure the origin of the term “money laundering” has something to do with it being made a nice washable fiber.
More on natural fibers (and synthetics) later…