Flax

Flax (Linum usitatissimum), also known as common flax or linseed, is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is a food and fiber crop cultivated in cooler regions of the world. Textiles made from flax are known in the Western countries as linen, and traditionally used for bed sheets, underclothes, and table linen. Its oil is known as linseed oil. In addition to referring to the plant itself, the word "flax" may refer to the unspun fibers of the flax plant. The plant species is known only as a cultivated plant,[2] and appears to have been domesticated just once from the wild species Linum bienne, called pale flax[3]

Flax
Linum usitatissimum - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-088
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Linaceae
Genus: Linum
Species:
L. usitatissimum
Binomial name
Linum usitatissimum
Synonyms[1]
  • Linum crepitans (Boenn.) Dumort.
  • Linum humile Mill.
  • Linum indehiscens (Neilr.) Vavilov & Elladi

Description

Linum usitatissimum capsules, vlas zaadbollen
Capsules
Flax flowers
Flowers

Several other species in the genus Linum are similar in appearance to L. usitatissimum, cultivated flax, including some that have similar blue flowers, and others with white, yellow, or red flowers.[4] Some of these are perennial plants, unlike L. usitatissimum, which is an annual plant.

Cultivated flax plants grow to 1.2 m (3 ft 11 in) tall, with slender stems. The leaves are glaucous green, slender lanceolate, 20–40 mm long, and 3 mm broad.

The flowers are pure pale blue, 15–25 mm in diameter, with five petals. The fruit is a round, dry capsule 5–9 mm in diameter, containing several glossy brown seeds shaped like an apple pip, 4–7 mm long.

History

The earliest evidence of humans using wild flax as a textile comes from the present-day Republic of Georgia, where spun, dyed, and knotted wild flax fibers were found in Dzudzuana Cave and dated to the Upper Paleolithic, 30,000 years ago.[5][6][7] Flax was first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent region.[8] Evidence exists of a domesticated oilseed flax with increased seed size by 9,000 years ago from Tell Ramad in Syria.[8] Use of the crop steadily spread, reaching as far as Switzerland and Germany by 5,000 years ago.[9] In China and India, domesticated flax was cultivated also at least 5,000 years ago.[10]

Flax was cultivated extensively in ancient Egypt, where the temple walls had paintings of flowering flax, and mummies were entombed in linen.[11] Egyptian priests wore only linen, as flax was considered a symbol of purity.[12] Phoenicians traded Egyptian linen throughout the Mediterranean and the Romans used it for their sails.[13] As the Roman Empire declined, so did flax production, but Charlemagne revived the crop in the eighth century CE with laws designed to publicize the hygiene of linen textiles and the health of linseed oil.[14] Eventually, Flanders became the major center of the linen industry in the European Middle Ages.[14] In North America, flax was introduced by the colonists and it flourished there,[15] but by the early 20th century, cheap cotton and rising farm wages had caused production of flax to become concentrated in northern Russia, which came to provide 90% of the world's output. Since then, flax has lost its importance as a commercial crop, due to the easy availability of more durable fibres.[16]

Uses

Brown Flax Seeds
Brown flaxseeds
Flax seeds
Golden flaxseeds
Ground Golden Flax Seeds (8594315026)
Golden flaxseed meal

Flax is grown for its seeds, which can be ground into a meal or turned into linseed oil, a product used as a nutritional supplement and as an ingredient in many wood-finishing products. Flax is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens. Moreover, flax fibers are used to make linen. The specific epithet, usitatissimum, means "most useful".[17]

Flax fibers taken from the stem of the plant are two to three times as strong as cotton fibers. Additionally, flax fibers are naturally smooth and straight. Europe and North America both depended on flax for plant-based cloth until the 19th century, when cotton overtook flax as the most common plant for making rag-based paper. Flax is grown on the Canadian prairies for linseed oil, which is used as a drying oil in paints and varnishes and in products such as linoleum and printing inks.

Linseed meal, the byproduct of producing linseed oil from flax seeds, is used as livestock fodder. It is a protein-rich feed for ruminants, rabbits, and fish.[18]

Flaxseeds

Green Flax seed
Green flaxseeds with some seed coverings

Flaxseeds occur in two basic varieties/colors: brown or yellow (golden linseeds).[19] Most types of these basic varieties have similar nutritional characteristics and equal numbers of short-chain omega-3 fatty acids. The exception is a type of yellow flax called solin (trade name "Linola"), which has a completely different oil profile and is very low in omega-3s.

Flaxseeds produce a vegetable oil known as flaxseed oil or linseed oil, which is one of the oldest commercial oils. It is an edible oil obtained by expeller pressing and sometimes followed by solvent extraction. Solvent-processed flaxseed oil has been used for many centuries as a drying oil in painting and varnishing.[20]

Although brown flaxseed varieties may be consumed as readily as the yellow ones, and have been for thousands of years, its better-known uses are in paints, for fiber, and for cattle feed.

Culinary

A 100-gram portion of ground flaxseed supplies about 534 calories (2,230 kJ), 41 g of fat, 28 g of fiber, and 20 g of protein.[21]

Flaxseed sprouts are edible and have a slightly spicy flavor profile. Excessive consumption of flaxseeds with inadequate amounts of water may cause bowel obstruction.[22] In northern India, flaxseed, called tisi or alsi, is traditionally roasted, ground to a powder, and eaten with boiled rice, a little water, and a little salt.[23] In India, linseed oil is known as alsi in Hindi and javas in Marathi. It is mainly used in Savji curries, such as mutton (goat meat) curries.

Whole flaxseeds are chemically stable, but ground flaxseed meal, because of oxidation, may go rancid when left exposed to air at room temperature in as little as one week.[24] Refrigeration and storage in sealed containers will keep ground flaxseed meal for a longer period before it turns rancid. Under conditions similar to those found in commercial bakeries, trained sensory panelists could not detect differences between bread made with freshly ground flaxseed and bread made with flaxseed that had been milled four months earlier and stored at room temperature.[25] This shows, if packed immediately without exposure to air and light, milled flaxseed is stable against excessive oxidation when stored for nine months at room temperature,[26] and under warehouse conditions, for 20 months at ambient temperatures.

Three natural phenolic glucosides—secoisolariciresinol diglucoside, p-coumaric acid glucoside, and ferulic acid glucoside—can be found in commercial breads containing flaxseed.[27]

Flax fibers

Heckling Shop Irvine
A heckling shop used to prepare flax fibers

Flax fiber is extracted from the bast beneath the surface of the stem of the flax plant. Flax fiber is soft, lustrous, and flexible; bundles of fiber have the appearance of blonde hair, hence the description "flaxen" hair. It is stronger than cotton fiber, but less elastic. The best grades are used for fabrics such as damasks, lace, and sheeting. Coarser grades are used for the manufacturing of twine and rope, and historically, for canvas and webbing equipment. Flax fiber is a raw material used in the high-quality paper industry for the use of printed banknotes, laboratory paper (blotting and filter), rolling paper for cigarettes, and tea bags.

Flax field
A flax field in bloom in North Dakota

The use of flax fibers dates back tens of thousands of years; linen, a refined textile made from flax fibers, was worn widely by Sumerian priests more than 4,000 years ago.[28] Industrial-scale flax fiber processing existed in antiquity. A Bronze Age factory dedicated to flax processing was discovered in Euonymeia.[29]

Flax mills for spinning flaxen yarn were invented by John Kendrew and Thomas Porthouse of Darlington, England, in 1787.[30] New methods of processing flax have led to renewed interest in the use of flax as an industrial fiber.

Nutrition

Flaxseed
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy2,234 kJ (534 kcal)
28.88 g
Sugars1.55 g
Dietary fiber27.3 g
42.16 g
Saturated3.663 g
Monounsaturated7.527 g
Polyunsaturated28.730 g
22.8 g
5.9 g
18.29 g
VitaminsQuantity %DV
Thiamine (B1)
143%
1.644 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
13%
0.161 mg
Niacin (B3)
21%
3.08 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
20%
0.985 mg
Vitamin B6
36%
0.473 mg
Folate (B9)
0%
0 μg
Vitamin C
1%
0.6 mg
MineralsQuantity %DV
Calcium
26%
255 mg
Iron
44%
5.73 mg
Magnesium
110%
392 mg
Phosphorus
92%
642 mg
Potassium
17%
813 mg
Zinc
46%
4.34 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

In a 100-gram serving, flaxseed contains high levels (> 19% of the Daily Value, DV) of protein, dietary fiber, several B vitamins, and dietary minerals.[31][32] Ten grams of flaxseed contains one gram of water-soluble fiber (which lowers blood cholesterol) and three grams of insoluble fiber (which helps prevent constipation).[33] Flax contains hundreds of times more lignans than other plant foods.[33] Flaxseeds are especially rich in thiamine, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus (DVs above 90%).

As a percentage of total fat, flaxseeds contain 54% omega-3 fatty acids (mostly ALA), 18% omega-9 fatty acids (oleic acid), and 6% omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic acid); the seeds contain 9% saturated fat, including 5% as palmitic acid.[31][32] Flaxseed oil contains 53% 18:3 omega-3 fatty acids (mostly ALA) and 13% 18:2 omega-6 fatty acids.

Health effects

One study of research published between 1990 and 2008 showed that consuming flaxseed or its derivatives may reduce total and LDL-cholesterol in the blood, with greater benefits in women and those with high cholesterol.[34]

A meta-analysis has shown that consumption of more than 30 g of flaxseed daily for more than 12 weeks reduced body weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference for persons with a BMI greater than 27.[35] Another meta-analysis has shown that consumption of flaxseed for more than 12 weeks produced small reductions in systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure.[36] Flaxseed supplementation showed a small reduction in c-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) only in persons with a BMI greater than 30.[37]

Toxicity

Flaxseed and its oil have repeatedly been demonstrated to be nontoxic and are generally recognized as safe for human consumption.[38] Like many common foods, flax contains small amounts of cyanogenic glycoside,[39] which is nontoxic when consumed in typical amounts, but may be toxic when consumed in large quantities as with staple foods such as cassava.[40] Typical concentrations (for example, 0.48% in a sample of defatted dehusked flaxseed meal) can be removed by special processing.[41]

Cultivation

The soils most suitable for flax, besides the alluvial kind, are deep loams containing a large proportion of organic matter[42]. Flax is often found growing just above the waterline in cranberry bogs. Heavy clays are unsuitable, as are soils of a gravelly or dry sandy nature. Farming flax requires few fertilizers or pesticides. Within eight weeks of sowing, the plant can reach 10–15 cm (3.9–5.9 in) in height and grows several centimeters per day under its optimal growth conditions, reaching 70–80 cm (28–31 in) within 50 days.

Diseases

Production

In 2014, world production of flax (linseed) was 2.65 million tonnes, led by Canada with 33% of the global total.[43] Other major producers were Kazakhstan, China, and Russia (table).

Flax (linseed) production – 2016
Country Production (tonnes)
 Russia
672,691
 Canada
579,000
 Kazakhstan
561,771
 China
361,569
 United States
220,480
 India
125,000
World
2,925,282
Source: FAOSTAT of the United Nations[43]

Harvesting

Maturation

Flax is harvested for fiber production after about 100 days, or a month after the plants flower and two weeks after the seed capsules form. The bases of the plants begin to turn yellow. If the plants are still green, the seed will not be useful, and the fiber will be underdeveloped. The fiber degrades once the plants turn brown.

Flax grown for seed is allowed to mature until the seed capsules are yellow and just starting to split; it is then harvested in various ways. A combine harvester may either cut only the heads of the plants, or the whole plant. These are then dried to extract the seed. The amount of weeds in the straw affects its marketability, and this, coupled with market prices, determines whether the farmer chooses to harvest the flax straw. If the flax straw is not harvested, typically, it is burned, since the stalks are quite tough and decompose slowly (i.e., not in a single season). Formed into windrows from the harvesting process, the straw often clogs up tillage and planting equipment. Flax straw that is not of sufficient quality for fiber uses can be baled to build shelters for farm animals, or sold as biofuel, or removed from the field in the spring.[44]

Two ways are used to harvest flax fiber, one involving mechanized equipment (combines), and a second method, more manual and targeting maximum fiber length.

Harvesting for fiber

Mechanical

Flax for fiber production is usually harvested by a specialized flax harvester. Usually built on the same machine base as a combine, but instead of the cutting head it has a flax puller. The flax plant turned over and is gripped by rubber belts roughly 20–25 cm (8-10") above ground, to avoid getting grasses and weeds in the flax. The rubber belts then pull the whole plant out of the ground with the roots so the whole length of the plant fiber can be used. The plants then pass over the machine and is placed on the field crosswise to the harvesters direction of travel. The plants are left in the field for field retting.

The mature plant can also be cut with mowing equipment, similar to hay harvesting, and raked into windrows. When dried sufficiently, a combine then harvests the seeds similar to wheat or oat harvesting .

Manual

The plant is pulled up with the roots (not cut), so as to increase the fiber length. After this, the flax is allowed to dry, the seeds are removed, and it is then retted. Dependent upon climatic conditions, characteristics of the sown flax and fields, the flax remains on the ground between two weeks and two months for retting. As a result of alternating rain and the sun, an enzymatic action degrades the pectins which bind fibers to the straw. The farmers turn over the straw during retting to evenly rett the stalks. When the straw is retted and sufficiently dry, it is rolled up. It is then stored by farmers before extracting the fibers.

Emile Claus001
De vlasoogst (1904) ("The flax harvest") painting by Emile Claus, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium

Processing

Drhlen
A hackle or heckle, a tool for threshing flax and preparing the fiber
58-aspetti di vita quotidiana,abbigliamento lino,Taccuino Sa
Flax tissues, Tacuinum sanitatis, 14th century

Threshing is the process of removing the seeds from the rest of the plant. Separating the usable flax fibers from other components requires pulling the stems through a hackle and/or beating the plants to break them.

Flax processing is divided into two parts: the first part is generally done by the farmer, to bring the flax fiber into a fit state for general or common purposes. This can be performed by three machines: one for threshing out the seed, one for breaking and separating the straw (stem) from the fiber, and one for further separating the broken straw and matter from the fiber.

The second part of the process brings the flax into a state for the very finest purposes, such as lace, cambric, damask, and very fine linen. This second part is performed by a refining machine.

Preparation for spinning

Labeledstemforposter copy
Stem cross-section, showing locations of underlying tissues: Ep = epidermis; C = cortex; BF = bast fibers; P = phloem; X = xylem; Pi = pith
Threshing, retting, and dressing flax at the Roscheider Hof Open Air Museum (Germany)

Before the flax fibers can be spun into linen, they must be separated from the rest of the stalk. The first step in this process is retting, which is the process of rotting away the inner stalk, leaving the outer parts intact. At this point, straw, or coarse outer stem (cortex and epidermis), is still remaining. To remove this, the flax is "broken", the straw is broken up into small, short bits, while the actual fiber is left unharmed. Scutching scrapes the outer straw from the fiber. The stems are then pulled through "hackles", which act like combs to remove the straw and some shorter fibers out of the long fiber.

Retting flax

Several methods are used for retting flax. It can be retted in a pond, stream, field, or tank. When the retting is complete, the bundles of flax feel soft and slimy, and quite a few fibers are standing out from the stalks. When wrapped around a finger, the inner woody part springs away from the fibers. Pond retting is the fastest. It consists of placing the flax in a pool of water which will not evaporate. It generally takes place in a shallow pool which will warm up dramatically in the sun; the process may take from a few days to a few weeks. Pond-retted flax is traditionally considered of lower quality, possibly because the product can become dirty, and is easily over-retted, damaging the fiber. This form of retting also produces quite an odor. Stream retting is similar to pool retting, but the flax is submerged in bundles in a stream or river. This generally takes two or three weeks longer than pond retting, but the end product is less likely to be dirty, does not smell as bad, and because the water is cooler, is less likely to be over-retted. Both pond and stream retting were traditionally used less because they pollute the waters used for the process.

In field retting, the flax is laid out in a large field, and dew is allowed to collect on it. This process normally takes a month or more, but is generally considered to provide the highest quality flax fibers, and it produces the least pollution.

Retting can also be done in a plastic trash can or any type of water-tight container of wood, concrete, earthenware, or plastic. Metal containers will not work, as an acid is produced when retting, and it would corrode the metal. If the water temperature is kept at 80 °F (27 °C), the retting process under these conditions takes 4 or 5 days. If the water is any colder, it takes longer. Scum collects at the top, and an odor is given off the same as in pond retting. 'Enzymatic' retting of flax has been researched as a technique to engineer fibers with specific properties.[45][46]

Dressing the flax

Harfleur - Compagnons duellistes - teillage du lin

Breaking flax

Harfleur - Compagnons duellistes - battage du lin

Scutching flax

Harfleur - Compagnons duellistes - peignage du lin

Heckling flax

Flax fibers

Flax fiber in different forms, before and after processing

Dressing the flax is the process of removing the straw from the fibers. Dressing consists of three steps: breaking, scutching, and heckling. The breaking breaks up the straw. Some of the straw is scraped from the fibers in the scutching process, and finally, the fiber is pulled through heckles to remove the last bits of straw.

Breaking breaks up the straw into short segments.
Scutching removes some of the straw from the fiber.
Heckling is pulling the fiber through various sizes of heckling combs or heckles. A heckle is a bed of "nails"—sharp, long-tapered, tempered, polished steel pins driven into wooden blocks at regular spacing.

Genetically modified flax contamination

Flax Plants
Small flax plants

In September 2009, Canadian flax exports reportedly had been contaminated by a deregistered genetically modified cultivar called 'Triffid' that had food and feed safety approval in Canada and the U.S.,[47][48] however, Canadian growers and the Flax Council of Canada raised concerns about the marketability of this cultivar in Europe where a zero tolerance policy exists regarding unapproved genetically modified organisms.[49] Subsequently, deregistered in 2010 and never grown commercially in Canada or the U.S.,[50] 'Triffid' stores were destroyed, but future exports and further tests at the University of Saskatchewan proved that 'Triffid' persisted among flax crops, possibly affecting future crops.[50] Canadian flaxseed cultivars were reconstituted with 'Triffid'-free seed used to plant the 2014 crop.[47] Laboratories are certified to test for the presence of 'Triffid' at a level of one seed in 10,000.[48]

Symbolic images

Flax is the emblem of Northern Ireland and displayed by the Northern Ireland Assembly. In a coronet, it appeared on the reverse of the British one-pound coin to represent Northern Ireland on coins minted in 1986, 1991, and 2014. Flax also represents Northern Ireland on the badge of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and on various logos associated with it.

Common flax is the national flower of Belarus.

In early versions of the Sleeping Beauty tale, such as "Sun, Moon, and Talia" by Giambattista Basile, the princess pricks her finger, not on a spindle, but on a sliver of flax, which later is sucked out by her children conceived as she sleeps.

See also

References

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California Pizza Kitchen

California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) is a casual dining restaurant chain that specializes in California-style pizza. The restaurant was started in 1985 by attorneys Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax in Beverly Hills, California, United States.

Distaff

A distaff (, , also called a rock) is a tool used in spinning. It is designed to hold the unspun fibers, keeping them untangled and thus easing the spinning process. It is most commonly used to hold flax, and sometimes wool, but can be used for any type of fiber. Fiber is wrapped around the distaff, and tied in place with a piece of ribbon or string. The word comes from dis in Low German, meaning a bunch of flax, connected with staff.

As an adjective the term distaff is used to describe the female side of a family.

Flax (color)

Flax or Flaxen is a pale yellowish-gray, the color of straw or unspun dressed flax. An early use of "flaxen" to describe hair color appears in David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens: Mr. Omer's granddaughter, Minnie, is described as "a pretty little girl with long, flaxen, curling hair." The first recorded use of flax as a color name in English was in 1915.

Flax Pond (Brewster, Massachusetts)

Shubael Pond is a 48-acre (190,000 m2) kettle pond on Flax Pond Road in Nickerson State Park in Barnstable, Massachusetts.The pond has a popular swimming area and access for small boats or fishing is over that area. Only electric motors are permitted on the pond.Shubael Pond is stocked twice a year with several varieties of trout.

Flax in New Zealand

New Zealand flax describes the common New Zealand perennial plants Phormium tenax and Phormium colensoi, known by the Māori names harakeke and wharariki respectively. Although given the common name 'flax' they are quite distinct from the Northern Hemisphere plant known as flax (Linum usitatissimum)

P. tenax occurs naturally in New Zealand and Norfolk Island, while P. colensoi is endemic to New Zealand. They have played an important part in the cultural and economic history of New Zealand for both the Māori people and the later European settlers.

Both species and their cultivars have now been widely distributed to temperate regions of the world as ornamental garden plants - and to lesser extent for fibre production.

Heckling (flax)

Heckling (or "hackling") is the last of three steps in dressing flax, or preparing the fibers to be spun. It splits and straightens the flax fibers, as well as removes the fibrous core and impurities. Flax is pulled through heckling combs, which parts the locked fibers and makes them straight, clean, and ready to spin. After heckling flax is ready to be woven into linen.

Holly Flax

Hollis Partridge "Holly" Scott (née Flax) is a fictional character from the US television series The Office played by Amy Ryan. She was an original character, and not based on a character from the British version of the show. Initially, she served as a replacement HR Representative for the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin when Toby Flenderson left for Costa Rica. Later, her character was developed into a friend and romantic interest for Steve Carell's character Michael Scott. She and Michael have a shared sense of humor and similar personality traits, though Holly does prove to be more rational than Mike. In the office, she is noticeably more acquiescent to Michael's antics and ideas than was her predecessor, Toby. At the office, Michael proposes to her with the help of their co-workers. After different challenges, she and Michael move to Colorado, marry and start a family together.

Irish linen

Irish linen (Irish: Línéadach Éireannach) is the brand name given to linen produced in Ireland. Linen is cloth woven from, or yarn spun from the flax fibre, which was grown in Ireland for many years before advanced agricultural methods and more suitable climate led to the concentration of quality flax cultivation in northern Europe (Most of the world crop of quality flax is now grown in Northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands). Since about the 1950s to 1960s the flax fibre for Irish Linen yarn has been, almost exclusively, imported from France, Belgium and the Netherlands. It is bought by spinners who produce yarn and this, in turn, is sold to weavers (or knitters) who produce fabric. Irish linen spinning has now virtually ceased, yarns being imported from places such as the Eastern part of the European Union and China.

Weaving continues mainly of plain linens for niche, top of the range, apparel uses. Linen damask weaving in Ireland has less capacity, and it is confined at very much the top end of the market for luxury end uses. Companies including Thomas Ferguson & Co Ltd continue to weave in Ireland tend to concentrate on the quality end of the market, and Jacquard weaving is moving towards the weaving of specials and custom damask pieces, made to the customers' own individual requirements. Fabric which is woven outside Ireland and brought to Ireland to be bleached/dyed and finished cannot carry the Irish Linen Guild logo, which is the Guild trademark, and signifies the genuine Irish Linen brand.

The Irish Linen Guild has defined Irish linen as yarn which is spun in Ireland from 100% flax fibres. Irish linen fabric is defined as fabric which is woven in Ireland from 100% linen yarns. It is not required that every stage from the growing of the flax to the weaving must take place in Ireland. To be Irish linen fabric the yarns do not necessarily have to come from an Irish spinner, and to be Irish linen (yarn) the flax fibre does not have to be grown in Ireland. However, the skills, craftsmanship, and technology that go into spinning the yarn must be Irish, as is the case with Irish linen fabric; where the design and weaving skills must be Irish, and all of such must take place in Ireland.

Finished garments, or household textile items can be labelled Irish linen, although they may have been made up in another country. Irish linen does not refer to the making up process (such as cutting and sewing). It refers to where the constituent fabric was woven or knitted.

Ken Flax

Kenneth ("Ken") Flax (born April 20, 1963) is a retired American Olympic hammer thrower, whose personal best throw is 80.02 metres, achieved in May 1988 in Modesto.

Flax was born in San Francisco, California, and is Jewish. Flax is a two-time Olympic hammer thrower, who competed in the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games. He competed in Track & Field as a student at Redwood High School, and began throwing the hammer for the University of Oregon in January 1982, and by June 1982 he won the USA Junior National Championships and competed in the Junior Pan Am Games in Caracas, Venezuela. Flax later went on to win two Pac-10 championships and the 1986 NCAA Championships, throwing seven personal records in nine throws and broke the NCAA record three times in the process which still stands today as the American Collegiate Record.

After college, Flax went on to compete in three World University Games winning a bronze and in 1991 he won the gold medal, beating the former number one ranked hammer thrower in the world, Heinz Weis. One of the highlights of Flax's throwing career was competing in the 1987 and 1991 World Championships, where he finished 7th in 1991 marking the first time in 21 years that an American has made the finals in the hammer throw in a non-boycotted major world event.

Flax won the gold medal in the hammer throw at both the 1985 Maccabiah Games, and then at the 1989 Maccabiah Games with a 78.86 meter toss.In 2009, Ken was inducted into the Redwood High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Flax was the best field man in Redwood’s track history, a powerful young teen who hurled the shot 57 feet—second all-time best in the MCAL. He has also been inducted into the University of Oregon Athletic Hall of Fame.

Linen

Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant. Linen is laborious to manufacture, but the fiber is very strong, absorbent and dries faster than cotton. Garments made of linen are valued for their exceptional coolness and freshness in hot and humid weather.

The word linen is of West Germanic origin and cognate to the Latin name for the flax plant, linum, and the earlier Greek λινόν (linón). This word history has given rise to a number of other terms in English, most notably line, from the use of a linen (flax) thread to determine a straight line. Many products are made of linen: aprons, bags, towels (swimming, bath, beach, body and wash towels), napkins, bed linens, tablecloths, runners, chair covers, and men's and women's wear.

The collective term "linens" is still often used generically to describe a class of woven or knitted bed, bath, table and kitchen textiles traditionally made of flax-based linen but today made from a variety of fibers. The term "linens" refers to lightweight undergarments such as shirts, chemises, waist-shirts, lingerie (a cognate with linen), and detachable shirt collars and cuffs, all of which were historically made almost exclusively out of linen. The inner layer of fine composite cloth garments (as for example dress jackets) was traditionally made of linen, hence the word lining.Textiles in a linen weave texture, even when made of cotton, hemp, or other non-flax fibers, are also loosely referred to as "linen". Such fabrics frequently have their own specific names: for example fine cotton yarn in a linen-style weave may be called madapolam.

Linen textiles appear to be some of the oldest in the world: their history goes back many thousands of years. Fragments of straw, seeds, fibers, yarns, and various types of fabrics dating to about 8000 BC have been found in Swiss lake dwellings. Dyed flax fibers found in a prehistoric cave in Georgia suggest the use of woven linen fabrics from wild flax may date back even earlier to 36,000 BP.Linen was sometimes used as a form of currency in ancient Egypt. Egyptian mummies were wrapped in linen as a symbol of light and purity, and as a display of wealth. Some of these fabrics, woven from hand-spun yarns, were very fine for their day, but are coarse compared to modern linen. In 1923, the German city Bielefeld issued banknotes printed on linen.

Today, linen is usually an expensive textile produced in relatively small quantities. It has a long staple (individual fiber length) relative to cotton and other natural fibers.

Linseed oil

Linseed oil, also known as flaxseed oil or flax oil, is a colourless to yellowish oil obtained from the dried, ripened seeds of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum). The oil is obtained by pressing, sometimes followed by solvent extraction. Linseed oil is a drying oil, meaning it can polymerize into a solid form. Owing to its polymer-forming properties, linseed oil can be used on its own or blended with combinations of other oils, resins or solvents as an impregnator, drying oil finish or varnish in wood finishing, as a pigment binder in oil paints, as a plasticizer and hardener in putty, and in the manufacture of linoleum. Linseed oil use has declined over the past several decades with increased availability of synthetic alkyd resins—which function similarly but resist yellowing.Linseed oil is an edible oil in demand as a nutritional supplement, as a source of α-Linolenic acid, (an omega-3 fatty acid). In parts of Europe, it is traditionally eaten with potatoes and quark. It is regarded as a delicacy due to its hearty taste, that enhances the flavour of quark, which is otherwise bland.

Linum

Linum (flax) is a genus of approximately 200 species in the flowering plant family Linaceae. They are native to temperate and subtropical regions of the world. The genus includes the common flax (L. usitatissimum), the bast fibre of which is used to produce linen and the seeds to produce linseed oil.

The flowers of most species are blue or yellow, rarely red, white, or pink, and some are heterostylous. There is an average of 6 to 10 seeds per boll.

Linum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the Cabbage Moth, The Nutmeg, the Setaceous Hebrew Character and Coleophora striolatella, which feeds exclusively on Linum narbonense.

Neolithic founder crops

The Neolithic founder crops (or primary domesticates) are the eight plant species that were domesticated by early Holocene (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B) farming communities in the Fertile Crescent region of southwest Asia, and which formed the basis of systematic agriculture in the Middle East, North Africa, India, Persia and Europe. They consist of flax, three cereals and four pulses, and are the first known domesticated plants in the world. Although domesticated rye (Secale cereale) occurs in the final Epi-Palaeolithic strata at Tell Abu Hureyra (the earliest instance of domesticated plant species), it was insignificant in the Neolithic Period of southwest Asia and only became common with the spread of farming into northern Europe several millennia later.Cereals

Emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccum, descended from the wild T. dicoccoides)

Einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum, descended from the wild T. boeoticum)

Barley (Hordeum vulgare/sativum, descended from the wild H. spontaneum)Pulses

Lentil (Lens culinaris)

Pea (Pisum sativum)

Chickpea (Cicer arietinum)

Bitter vetch (Vicia ervilia)Other

Flax (Linum usitatissimum)

Phormium

Phormium is a genus of two plant species in the Asphodelaceae family. One species is endemic to New Zealand and the other is native to New Zealand and Norfolk Island. The two species are widely known in New Zealand as 'flax' and elsewhere as New Zealand flax or flax lily but are not closely related to flax (Linum usitatissimum), which is native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India and which has been used by humans since 30,000 B.C.

Radical 200

Radical 200 meaning "hemp" or "flax" is 1 of 6 Kangxi radicals (214 radicals total) composed of 11 strokes. Historically, it is the Chinese word for cannabis.

In the Kangxi Dictionary there are 34 characters (out of 49,030) to be found under this radical.

Scutching

Scutching is a step in the processing of cotton or the dressing of flax or hemp in preparation for spinning. The scutching process separates the impurities from the raw material, such as the seeds from raw cotton or the straw and woody stem from flax fibers. Scutching can be done by hand or by a machine known as a scutcher. Hand scutching of flax is done with a wooden scutching knife and a small iron scraper. The end products of scutching flax are the long flax fibers, short coarser fibers called tow, and waste woody matter called shive.In the early days of the cotton industry the raw material was manually beaten with sticks after being placed on a mesh, a process known as willowing or batting, until the task was mechanised by the development of machines known as willowers. Scutching machines were introduced in the early 19th-century, and processed the raw material into a continuous sheet of cotton wadding known as a lap.

Textile arts

Textile arts are arts and crafts that use plant, animal, or synthetic fibers to construct practical or decorative objects.

Textiles have been a fundamental part of human life since the beginning of civilization. The methods and materials used to make them have expanded enormously, while the functions of textiles have remained the same. The history of textile arts is also the history of international trade. Tyrian purple dye was an important trade good in the ancient Mediterranean. The Silk Road brought Chinese silk to India, Africa, and Europe. Tastes for imported luxury fabrics led to sumptuary laws during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The Industrial Revolution was shaped largely by innovation in textiles technology: the cotton gin, the spinning jenny, and the power loom mechanized production and led to the Luddite rebellion.

The Three Spinners

"The Three Spinners" is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm. It is tale no 14 and Aarne–Thompson type 501. It is widespread throughout Europe.It has obvious parallels to Rumpelstiltskin and Frau Holle, and obvious differences, so that they are often compared.

Giambattista Basile includes an Italian literary fairy tale, The Seven Little Pork Rinds, in his 1634 work, the Pentamerone.

Italo Calvino's Italian Folktales includes a variant, And Seven!.The first edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales contained a much shorter variant, Hateful Flax Spinning, but it is "The Three Spinners" that became well-known.

USS Brisk (PG-89)

HMS Flax, a modified Flower-class corvette, was laid down on 28 February 1942 at Kingston, Ontario, Canada, by War Supplies Ltd., for the Royal Navy. Launched on 15 June 1942 it was reallocated to the United States under the so-called "Reverse Lend-Lease" program and renamed and redesignated Brisk (PG-89) on 14 August 1942. Completed on 5 December 1942, the ship was commissioned on 6 December 1942, Lt. Norman B. Denel, USNR, in command.

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