Flax and Wool



Flax is the oldest crop cultivated for other purposes than food.  Flax is Scutched by hand, on handles / propellers.  Scutching means the separation of the woody part of the stem, which forms the inside of the straw, from the fiber that encloses it.

Originally found in the eastern Mediterranean zone, and was spread thence over the whole of Europe, Russia included, where for centuries it has found its chief center of production.

Eventually replaced by Cotton.

From Flax to Linen

Flax is also the only vegetable fiber referred to in the Bible.  Wool and silk were, known but for general purposes linen was the staple material used for clothing the biblical ancients, particularly the upper classes.  Even priestly garments.


Flax migrated from Rome / Greece, to Europe.

Pharoahs in Egypt ran an industry which was little more than peasant handicraft, dealing with a product which over the centuries has resisted all attempts at standardization.


Improvements in technology did occur during and following WWII

How to make Flax



Wool production in India:

the two major groups in which raw wool is classified based on its final use, apparel wool and carpet wool. Carpet wool has longer staple and is coarser than apparel wool. Wool used in floor coverings needs to be long and strong to withstand rougher usage and greater abrasion than is the case with garments. On the other hand, apparels require softer, that is, fine and short-staple wool.


Very few breeds in India produce apparel wool or fine wool suitable for garments. The exceptions are Kashmir Merino, which is a crossbreed developed more recently, and Nilgiri. Those that do produce fine wool include products of selective breeding. By and large, the north Indian breeds produce coarser and stronger wool suitable for carpets, whereas the vast majority of the south Indian breeds produce a wool that is too much like hair and not good for textilesX6532E70.gif

The Shepard was never just a shepard.


The Bhotias, went on treks which combined grazing, spinning and trade, in mid-spring, with merchandise financed by a group of bankers called the Kharagwals.


Sedentarization and Peasantization – created a decline


Wool in the USA

From Fiber to Fabric


On the eve of the Civil War some 24 million sheep nibbled the grasses of the United States, yielding perhaps 80 million pounds of wool. Most of them were descendants of the Spanish merinos  which, introduced into this country in the early years of the century, inaugurated the first American merino “craze” and were the foundation of the modem wool growing industry.


Although no state lacked its flocks, six states accounted for about half the total number of sheep in the country. Ohio led, with New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, California, and Virginia following in the order named. Vermont with perhaps three-quarters of a mil- lion sheep was more important than the figures suggest, since her blooded stock had achieved a wide reputation and was the foundation of many a flock to the westward.



The American woolen manufacturer supplied the market for American wool. The woolen industry in 1860 was seventh among the nation’s manufactures measured by net value of product.5 Al- though woolen manufacture was widely dispersed, the great bulk of it was in New England and the middle states.

The interdependence of American growers and manufacturers did not promote friendly attitudes and relationships. Instead there was suspicion, antagonism, and recrimination between the two groups.


Sale of the wool produced much friction. Manufacturers complained of the slovenly, careless, and dishonest practices of farmers in doing up their fleeces.” Poorly washed wool was offered as washed wool; unwashed wool from dead sheep was packed inside washed fleeces. Sweepings from the shearing shed and the dirtiest and least desirable parts of the fleece were bound up with the better wool. Fleeces were tied with excessive amounts of twine. Growers complained about the arbitrary deduction of one-third of the weight from wool that had not been washed. And they charged the manufacturers with deliberate efforts to depress the price of wool.

In August, 1864, a group of New England wool manufacturers issued a call for a convention to be held at Springfield “for the purpose of consultation, and, if it should be thought advisable, of form- ing a National Association of Wool Manufacturers, for our mutual interest and advantage.” 9 Two meetings were held, in October and November; at the second the association was formed, and 118 members listed.40 Although his name does not head the August call, it is clear that Erastus Bigelow was the founder of the organization. At the first meeting he was appointed to a committee to pre- pare a plan of organization. At the second he was elected president. By the following spring he had prepared and published a pamphlet entitled Objects and Plan of the National Association of Wool Manufacturers.

The Syracuse Convention was an event of first importance. The manufacturers originally had in mind a small meeting attended by their executive committee and a similar group from the growers’ organizations. But some of the growers wanted a public convention on a larger scale, and Randall so informed the National Association of Wool Manufacturers. As a result the association invited 50 of its members, in 12 states, to attend with its executive committee.

It concluded with these recommendations:

1. A provision to be inserted in the tariff laws requiring all wools now known as Mestizo, Metz, Cape and Australian wools, to be subjected to a duty of not less than ten cents per pound and ten per cent ad valorem.

2. All manufactures composed wholly or in part of wool or worsted shall be subjected to a duty which shall be equal to twenty-five per cent net; that is to say, twenty-five per cent, after reimbursing the amount paid on account of duties on wool, dye-stuffs, and other imported materials used in such manufactures, and also the amount paid for the internal revenue tax imposed on manufactures, and upon the supplies and materials used therefor.










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