[Ansteorra] Re period line question

Harris Mark.S-rsve60 Mark.s.Harris at motorola.com
Mon Oct 7 09:57:07 PDT 2002

Seraphina commented:
>    White linen is period, and pre period...back to ancient
> times.  They
> bleached the linen in the sun.  If you use chorine bleach on
> linen or silk it will turn it yellow.

Thanks for the info and the links.
Here is a bit of info from the linen-msg file in the Florilegium
that touches on this bleaching of linen a little and in particular
mentions how the specific method used to ret the flax can affect the
natural color.

stefan at florilegium.org

Date: Thu, 05 Nov 1998 16:18:50 -0800
From: Brett and Karen Williams <brettwi at earthlink.net>
To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Linen thread

"Gray, Lyle" wrote:
> >Incidentally, do not contemplate stream-retting flax, hemp or nettle.
> >Highly poisonous-- the released toxins will go downstream and poison the
> >local wildlife.
> >Apparently white linen thread
> >is now chemically bleached rather than processed that way.
> Ah, good, someone commented on that, good.  I have a reference to linen
> thread used to sew a book in the 7th-8th centuries, which commented that
> the thread was very white.  I had suspected that this was because of a
> natural retting process, rather than boiling (I've noticed that boiling
> tends to darken the fibers, regardless of what you boil in).

Apparently dew-retting produces a darker, greyer product as opposed to
stream retting, which produces a lighter, more silvery product. Also,
you can always spread the spun yarn out on clover/grass, which is an
effective, if slow, way to bleach linen. Clover is full of oxalic acid,
which acts as a bleach.

So, the old way of spreading one's linen cloth out on the grass to dry
contributed to the whitening of the cloth.



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