Original October 16 question:
 
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  

------------------------------
 
To add to explanations about visually disturbing slubs in linen threads  
produced today for making lace.  AND to add to your understanding  of the 
history of women in the lace "industry":
 
There are books that will supply interesting background information  about 
the massive destruction during World War I of the areas where flax  was 
cultivated in Belgium.  Ugly oil from German tanks contaminated the  lands 
where 
flax was grown.  Water from the River Lys, used for  retting, was 
contaminated by war ships.  This water containing unique  chemicals/minerals 
had 
produced the whitest linen thread then  available - anywhere.  One strain of 
most importance for the making of  the finest threads (claimed to be finer than 
a human hair) was completely  lost.  No seeds survived the war.  The 
cultivation of this  strain had been completely manual, with personal attention 
 
given to each plant.  No machines in the growing fields.  It grew  tall (I 
think I remember it was waist high), meaning less joins (if any) by  spinners. 
 
After WWI, all citizens were needed to rebuild the nation, and produce  
quickly-made products for export to pay war debts.  Fashions required much  
less (or no) lace, which could be supplied by elderly lacemakers.   Younger 
lacemakers turned to other available work to support  themselves.  
 
Hopefully, everyone will have read "Bobbins of Belgium" by Charlotte  
Kellogg?  It was scanned from my copy, and is on the Arizona site.   She wrote 
a 
second book, "Women of Belgium" which was about how they organized  to keep 
the domestic population fed and clothed.  They used aid that came  from the 
Commission for Relief in Belgium, set up in England by a future  U.S. 
President - Herbert Hoover.  The negotiations with the Germans  occupying 
Belgium, 
and the British which had many ships deployed as a blockade,  even included 
thread needed to make lace.  The Germans insisted  the thread (produced in 
another country) be weighed when it was  delivered to Belgium, and the 
finished lace was weighed when it was sent out  to defray some of the costs of 
the aid.  We call this "War  Lace".
 
Here is an address where you can read both books:
 
_http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Kellogg%2C%
20Charlotte_ 
(http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Kellogg,%20Charlotte)
  
 
There are also books about growing flax, and sometimes processing it.   The 
best (to me) is by Bert Dewilde of Kortrijk/Courtrai (Belgians are  
bi-lingual: Flemish/French).  Title:  "Flax in Flanders Throughout the  
Centuries: 
History..Technical Evolution..Folklore"  Published in English by  Lannoo, 
ISBN 90-209-1498-7, 1987, purchased as an out-of-print used  book in 2013 
through a local book store which ordered it from Belgium, 216  pages.  Here, 
you 
learn everything about Belgian flax.   Dewilde is behind the founding of 
the Flax Museum in his town, and  participants of the 1998 OIDFA Gent Lace 
Tour went to this fabulous place.   In a separate building, an enchanting large 
lace collection was presented,  which I believe was reviewed at the time in 
OIDFA publications.  Also in  this town is the thread business of Bart and 
Francis.  So - if you  appreciate these kinds of things (?), here are 
several resources for you to  research further.
 
Sorry to those who do not appreciate history.  It seems a shame  not to 
share.  WE STAND ON THE SHOULDERS of remarkable, very  hard-working women, 
whose history has been undocumented.  They saved  children from starvation 
during and after terrible wars all over the world  - going back to the 
beginning 
of human habitation of this  world.  
 
In this case, even before WWI, Belgium imported much of the food needed to  
sustain its population (it is a land-poor nation), so you can imagine the  
magnitude of the problems they faced.  You may be descended from some  of 
them.  A new book about the War Laces and what has happened since the  end of 
WWI (1918) is being written in Belgium by a highly-regarded lace  scholar, 
and will be published in 2018 in honor of our favorite subject:  LACE.  It 
will be available to those who travel to Bruges to attend  the lace 
festivities being planned by our Belgian "sisters".
 
Incidentally, the Australian crochet expert, Barbara Ballantyne, wrote  
about the poor quality of lace threads today in her book (reviewed March 23,  
2011 on Arachne) "The Structure of Threads for Lace".  You can search the  
title in our archives to read what she had to say.  Maybe an international  
committee of lace experts (including shop owners) should organize to work  
with thread manufacturers.  I doubt manufacturers hear complaints from many  of 
us.  That may explain why they have gone out of  business!  Please read the 
next to last paragraph in the review.   You'll note I recommended this 
topic to Program Chairmen.  Did anyone  follow up?  Put book title in the 
Search 
box at:
 
http://www.mail-archive.com/lace@arachne.com/index.html
 
Jeri Ames in Maine
Lace and Embroidery Resource Center  

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