Thursday, December 10, 2009

Admirable qualities, or, why I love linen

I know someone who has recently been subjected to some very rough and unpleasant treatment. I'll call him TheFallGuy. The way he has behaved throughout and changed as a result of this treatment reminds me of a textile experiment I once did.

In this experiment we subjected a variety of fabric samples to an extremely long, hot and rough machine wash then we hung the samples out to dry. Later we carefully examined them and compared them to control samples to identify how they had coped with our mistreatment.

Many fabrics came through seriously worse for wear: some completely disintegrated; some were shrunken and misshapen; others were frayed, threadbare or holey; some had bled angry blotches of colour or shed fluff; a few pilled unattractively; others were faded or greyed; many emerged from the machine twisted and knotted like rope.

In contrast, the pure linen sample coped superbly with our nasty treatment. This amazing fabric is incredibly strong, durable and resilient; linen emerges from a tough day in the laundry softer and more absorbent, so when used for tea towels, it becomes even more useful than before. Linen ages beautifully and is amazingly long-lasting. It does not pill or shed lint. In hot climates linen clothing it is valued for its exceptional coolness.

So while just observing TheFallGuy's mistreatment has left me ragged and twisted, remarkably he has come though it like the best quality pure linen tea towel: even more fit for purpose and ready to put in many more years of excellent service.

Plenty of other fabrics are more prestigious, expensive, fashionable or outwardly impressive, but I for one recognise and value the admirable qualities of linen (and TheFallGuy).

TheFallGuy needs to live where quality goods made from honest, hard-working and rare stuff are valued and treated with respect. Any ideas where that might be?


  1. A Fellow Linen LoverDecember 12, 2009 at 6:32 PM

    Nicely put.

  2. Lyttelton! We know how to treat cool arty types!

  3. Sadly some towns wouldn't recognise a class act if it put on a show for them. Or 50 ;)

  4. Thanks for all the various lovely emails and comments I've received about this post. I'd rather not publish comments containing his name but obviously many of you have worked it out.

  5. Of course you'd always be welcome in Te Awamutu :)

  6. Ha ha! TheFallGuy keeps freaking when he finds mental TA properties on my TradeMe watchlist.