Irish Linen or Russian Linen – Make your Choice

Jul 24 06:24 2007 Olga Shikalova Print This Article

What to Wear and How to Care… Some facts about well-known Irish linen and unknown Russian linen, about Egyptian mummies and British bank notes, and how to take linen into your bed…

Irish linen is well-known through the world for its fine quality. It is seen as a luxury product which can be treasured through generations. How does this compare to Russian linen….read on and find out.

It is typically of Irish linen suppliers to state that their linen has a thread count of 1200 or more. On the other hand,Guest Posting you will also see the very same companies offering fine Egyptian cotton with a thread count of only 300. How can there be such a difference, you may ask?

The difference is that each linen thread is made by spinning three separate strands of fibre together to form one actual thread of linen.  Cotton threads are produced in the same way but somehow those clever Irish linen makers decided to count each of the smaller strands of fibre instead.  So that’s where their thread count of 1200 comes from. 

To compare like-for-like with cotton, the 1200 they typically quote is really the equivalent of only 400 threads of linen (you divide theirs by 3).  This still is the best available thread count for cotton but the difference between the two (Irish v Egyptian) is not as big as it first appears.

According to the Irish Linen Guild, linen probably came to Ireland in early Christian times (for example, St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, is said to be buried in a shroud of Irish Linen). The production of Irish Linen continued through the Middle Ages but it was not until the 17th Century that the industry started to develop in any structured way.

However, there is evidence that flax has been known in Russia for much longer than it has been in Ireland - and since 2000 B.C. We know that ancient Russian manuscripts from 1,000 years B.C. contain evidence of linen made by Slavs.

Russians live with linen flax throughout their life and it inhabits absolutely every household.  It might be in clothing, bedding, dining linen or even building materials, such as insulation.  In Russia, linen has never been acknowledged as a luxury product and has a mostly domestic and home-friendly image.  And did you know there is the strong belief amongst Russians that wearing linen clothes from birth will make you live up to 10 years longer!

Egyptian mummies were found wrapped in linen because linen has natural antiseptic properties. I might joke but you are born, wrapped in linen for all of your life to live 10 years longer and then, when you are dead, the linen will keep your corpse lasting forever!

You may call it black humour and we can argue another time on whose sense of humour is more black – English or Russian?

The flax grown in Eastern Europe and Russia is recognized as being the best in the world.  This excellence is attributed to three beneficial factors: well-suited soil; a favourable climate; and the methods of experienced flax growers whose prime concern is quality.

A major benefit of flax now gaining even more importance for obvious reasons, is that of sustainable development and concern for the environment.  Eastern European linen is environment-friendly and requires only a fifth of the pesticides and fertilizers used for cotton. The reason for this is that the flax crops must be planted in rotation each year and this method does not exhaust the natural goodness in the soil.  The processes by which the flax plant is transformed into fibre are eco-friendly.  Artificial fibres such as viscose, bamboo or corn require energy and chemicals whereas flax and linen does not.Being in the laundry/dry cleaning business myself for over 6 years, I can guarantee that linen is the ONLY fabric which looks better through years of use.  It becomes softer, more gentle and it can last forever as it is 12 times stronger than cotton.

Every time I speak to somebody here in England, about linen, I get asked if it is painful to look after and, in particular, is it difficult to iron. Linen is perfectly washable in low temperatures, such as 30-40C (at high temperatures you do need to be careful as linen might shrink) and there is no need to use strong detergents. If we are talking about a tablecloth, I definitely suggest not only ironing it but using a hint of starch (to make your dining table look good enough for the Queen to sit at). But talking about bedding, it is your choice – you can iron it and get it crispy fine, or you can simply dry it in a tumble dryer with a couple of tennis balls (the balls will hit the linen and make it soft and cosily creasy)… I personally prefer the second one as it not only saves my time but makes my bed much more welcoming…

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About Article Author

Olga Shikalova
Olga Shikalova

ALENSKA is a trade name of Wide Range Ltd.

The company established in 2005 by two Russian women based in London.

Major products - bed linen and table linen.

Company sells online over

Our first mail order catalogue is to be launched in September.

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