Last April, I had the pleasure of meeting Wendy Schoen when the Lakes & Prairies chapter of the Smocking Arts Guild of America hosted a class with her in Minneapolis. Wendy brought her collection of little girls’ dresses displaying the beautiful techniques that she teaches, like drawn work and Madeira applique and others. My favorite moment was when Wendy chatted with me, talking her way through her collection, pointing out the value of the natural fiber of linen in the cloth that made the beauty of her little dresses. She spoke of the beauty of one strand of thread being pulled from the cloth with one pull, and how this is what enables a needle artist to execute this technique so beautifully.
Seeing Wendy’s beautiful dresses fueled my interest in Irish Linen, and the Irish have done a great job creating videos so that you can see where this beautiful cloth is created, even yet today.
Two of my favorite websites are:
The Irish Linen Guild and Baird McNutt/John Hanna Ltd.
I have in my possession swatches from Baird McNutt. They are lovely. Baird McNutt has a new video of their business and processes on their website. I highly recommend viewing this video.
My daughters are very interested in textiles and fiber arts. They have been learning to spin fiber using a spinning wheel. We’ve learned there are very active groups for this hobby in Minnesota and across the U.S. We also enjoyed the opportunity to see how flax is turned into linen cloth–all by hand with wooden tools–this summer at a little festival. The woman doing the demonstration showed my kids her bunch of flax and explained that she grew it in her garden. She demonstrated the process by which the dried flax was beaten and eventually prepared well enough to spin into linen thread that could be knitted or woven into cloth. We were fascinated. We are aware this is a labor intensive project, so we will be amongst the “hobbyists” for sure, but we are making plans to include flax in our garden this summer–for the fun of it and for our learning.
Our good friend, Micheál, in Galway sent us the following four links that were created a Dr. Kerr in Ireland showing all that goes into creating the gorgeous cloth known as Irish linen. We enjoyed them, and thought you might too.