True story - in London the mid-1960s, linen manufacturers worked and worked to
get the slubs (that’s what those big hunks of lint are called) out of the linen
thread used to make fabric, because people wanted smooth linen for high-quality
dressmaking. Then the 60s fashion revolution happened and designer Mary Quant
headed the trend that convinced them to keep the slubs, for the texture.
Nothing to do with your 90/2 thread, of course, but an interesting story.
Anyway, slubs have always been a part of linen thread. We’ve had a lot of
discussions about linen thread over the years; you could probably find them in
the archive. There are all sorts of twists and turns to the story (excuse the
pun). Smooth threads in manufacturing are often achieved through cutting up the
long flax fibre into very small pieces that are wet spun to achieve uniformity
- but that takes away much of the strength of the fibre. Plus, it’s difficult
to spin very fine linen thread by machine - in the past, very expert master
handspinners achieved very fine linen threads, but that quality of skill just
doesn’t exist any more.
When I was into handspinning, every year I’d meet one or two people who were
determined to learn handspinning so they could re-create the very fine linen
threads of 200 years ago. They’d take the class and buy the equipment and the
hank of flax and you’d never hear from them again, and I’m not surprised. I
tried it once and with great difficulty I was able to produce a fair-quality
baling twine ;-)
I must say that I love to use linen thread and I don’t notice the slubs in the
finished lace. Maybe I’m just so used to them, maybe it’s because mangling
makes the lace look different, maybe they just don’t bug me the way they do
you. I don’t know! You’re right in thinking that you will risk breaking the
thread by picking out the slub. The thread will also be less twisted in the
place where the slub used to be, and will be weaker in that spot as a result.
This probably doesn’t help much, but since the list is quiet I thought nobody’d
West Vancouver, BC
(west coast of Canada)
> Hello All! May I ask what brand linen thread you are using & why? I'm a bit
> steamed to find big hunks of lint stuck in 90/2 linen thread & unsure of
> whether to pick it out & risk breaking the thread or cutting it out & adding
> a new bobbin. While I realize that linen was nicer in the "good old days",
> I'm concerned that there seems to be so little quality control for thread
> that is now $xx a spool! Is one brand doing a better job of it than another
> or is this just the new normal? Comments? Suggestions? Many thanks.
> Sincerely, Susan Hottle USA
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