The revival of interest in flax and linen, largely driven by sustainability concerns, is the focus of this issue and there is so much current activity in this area that there are extra pages. Flax and linen have a long history, but the industry has almost disappeared in the British Isles. The end of linen handloom weaving in Northern Ireland is evoked by Deborah White, who tells the magical story of the discovery of a huge linen handloom and the challenges of restoring it to working order. Jacy Wall writes about Alison Morton, master of modern linen handweaving, producing finely woven and beautifully finished domestic linen. Riitta Sinkkonen Davies gives a clear tutorial on the topic of spinning line flax and, as students of her Summer School course know, it is well worth mastering the technique. Discovering the Berta’s Flax project, an amazing stash of historic flax stricks now being distributed to spinners, inspired Cath Snape, and she is now hooked on flax.
A number of projects producing and processing flax have emerged in the last couple of years, aiming to raise awareness of the sustainable characteristics of linen, linking back to lost local industries and involving local communities. The Blackburn project achieved its aim of growing flax, processing, dyeing and weaving cloth within the year. Rosie Bristow was inspired by the idea of locally produced sustainable clothing, but rapidly realised that there was no small-scale machinery available for processing the long flax fibres. She is now working with others to create the necessary machinery.
Also in this issue are the reports on the Certificates of Achievement (CoA) and the Certificate of Advanced Textile Studies (CATS) assessed last summer, which offer inspiration to others. Studying for Certificates is challenging, but these accomplished students gained satisfaction from pushing themselves out of their comfort zone and developing their skills.