We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – linen is an absolute marvel of nature! Luxurious comfort and elegance, as well as practicality and durability, are just a few of the countless benefits of this amazing fiber. Mungo is super proud to be one of a few linen weavers in South Africa, and even more proud about the fact that – with the help from our friends at Herdmans – pretty much the entire manufacturing process of our linen products happens right here on our doorstep too! Here is the amazing story behind each and every magnificent Mungo linen product.
Growing and harvesting:
Proudly South African, the only part of the manufacturing process that doesn’t happen here is the actual growing and harvesting of the flax plant. Most of the world’s flax is grown in Western Europe where the climate is cool and the soil moist. Mungo’s flax in particular is grown in Belgium (the country that is believed to grow the finest-quality flax fibers in the world!) and is then imported into South Africa in bales by Herdmans. Herdmans is eager to grow flax in South Africa in the future – a very exciting prospect indeed!
The growing cycle of the flax plant is a mere 100 days, being sown in March and harvested in July. Towards the end of June the flax fields turn a beautiful golden colour and the fields bloom with violet, blue and white flowers for only one day – a truly gorgeous site to behold!
When it comes to harvesting flax, this is best done by uprooting the plant rather than simply cutting it. Uprooting the flax maximises the quality of the fiber by increasing its length as well as preventing any leaking of plant sap. With advances in technology this can be done today with help of machines, but the highest quality linens are still made using hand-harvested flax.
From flax to linen:
Once harvested, the flax must be dried and the seeds removed (for next years crops!).
Then, the flax must be ‘retted.’ This basically means that the flax must be exposed to moisture and allowed to rot in order for the different fibers to separate so that we can remove the fiber needed to make linen. This is done by simply laying the flax out in the fields and allowing it to be exposed to rain, dew and sunshine for a couple of weeks. Thanks Mother Nature!
The flax is then ‘strippped’ and ‘combed’ – the mechanical process by which the fibers are separated from the straw. This results in short fibers (used for lower quality, coarser yarns) and long fibers which are ready to be spun into high quality linen.
Herdmans then ‘spins’ the separated flax fibers. This involves twisting the strands of fiber to form yarns, then winding the yarn onto a spool, avoiding a huge tangled mess! The yarn spun by Herdmans for Mungo is ‘wet spun.’ By keeping the yarn damp throughout the spinning process fly-away strands are prevented and an especially-smooth and shiny yarn is created. It looks rather spectacular in its golden colour. Flax is always spun very finely but a thicker yarn can be created by spinning multiple threads of this thin yarn together. This process is called plying. Yes, you’ve definitely heard this reference before – think toilet paper! Whilst one ply is thin and sufficient two or more ply is definitely preferred! The resulting yarn is usually around three ply.
Herdmans spins thousands of tonnes of linen yarn every year, and aren’t we grateful! Not only does it mean that Mungo does not need to look overseas for someone to supply us with linen yarn, but it also means more jobs are created for South African locals. Herdmans also exports plenty of linen yarn back to Europe.
Weaving and dying:
Here’s where Mungo steps in! After checking the quality of the linen yarn, the yarn is woven into sheets by interlacing multiple threads both horizontally and vertically on a loom. Once woven the linen is once again quality tested before being bleached (not too much, as this can compromise the quaility of the fiber!) and dyed into the gorgeous colour ways we know you’ll love!
Mungo chooses linen to weave a range of products because of it’s durablity, comfort and health benefits. To read more about the amazing potential of linen take a look at this cool blog post here.
Also, why not take a squizz at our amazing pure linen table cloths, serviettes and of course bedding. Stylishly contemporary, Mungo’s linen has been made to last and last, becoming only softer and more luxurious with time. Try climbing into one of our extraordinary true linen gowns and you will be in heaven! These high-quality products, made in South Africa with extra care and expertise, won’t disappoint. That’s a promise.