Vologda is famous for flax. Flax fiber is in great demand over the last years in spite of the large-scale production of synthetic fabrics.
According to the historians’ opinion flax was cultivated already when Russia came into being: first around Pskov, later – in the Novgorod, Suzdal, Vologda and nearby lands. In the 19th century the first flax mill was opened in the village Krasavino (Veliky Ustiug district).
Flax is a hardy plant. It needs only long daylight hours and damp climate. But it is not easy to receive high-quality cloth from it. The technique of flax procession didn’t change over the centuries. First of all, a mature plant is pulled up with the roots. It is dried; the seeds are removed from the rest of the plant which is then thrashed. It is interesting that after these procedures flax is laid out on the grass for the stem to collect dew on it. The dew activates microorganisms inhabiting flax stalk. They destroy adhesives inside the plant and it enables to separate fiber from the stem. Field retting can take several weeks depending on the climatic conditions. From time to time flax should be turned over to ret the stalks evenly. The received fiber is raised and dried and then it is braked and scutched scraping it away from stiffened part of the stalk. Scutched flax is heckled and drawn out into a thin twisted band – a rove. Now it can be spun into linen.
Linen cloth is manufactured of flaxen yarn mainly by linen weave. It has unique ecological quality. According to medical researches articles made of linen cloth are hygienic and durable, they promote more intensive circulation of the blood, reduce fatigability of the organism. Sufficient tightness to air, hygroscopicity and water absorbing capacity remove heat and liquid from the man’s body quickly. Thick linen cloths reflect well almost the whole spectrum of ultraviolet radiation. They don’t turn yellow but remain white and fresh when being worn and washed unlike cotton goods.
Vologda is the venue of the annual exhibition – fair “Russian Flax”. The Vologda flax mill has been producing linen cloths for more that 70 years. Shops specializing in linen goods are opened. Fashion designers create modern, comfortable, high-quality collections sewn of linen cloths (“Voltri-Eurodesign”, “Nerum”) which take first places in different contests and shows.