How precious are Your thoughts to me, O LORD ... how vast is the sum of them!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Winner Announced and Things that Inspire in Me a Story: Flax into Linen

First: business. We have the giveaway winner of the PDF Rising to the Challenge to announce! 

Drum roll, please!
And the copy of this exciting medieval novel goes to ... 
Faith Blum!

Congratulations, Faith! We will be contacting you shortly.
Thanks to all who entered the giveaway!

Wow! It seems like a while since I’ve actually posted a regular ole article on here, but the fact is I’ve been busy with other writing and there have been other, more convenient things to put on here, such as book reviews and promotions for some wonderful writers.

But before I move on to my subject, it’s update time … England Adventure is uploaded on CreateSpace and ready to go, but there have been some delays with the cover, so it’s not quite publishable yet. But it will be soon! Thank you for your patience. I look forward to sharing this book with you!

On the final Sunday of last November, a gorgeous day, I was feeling a bit stir-crazy … oh, I had writing to work on (there is always writing), but I felt a definite need to physically get out of the house and not just send my mind elsewhere. So my mom and I went to an annual weekend fair that we’ve gone to for many years in the past but hadn’t attended for a while.

It’s called a homestead and craft fair, for the people who put it on devote part of their lives to keeping alive the skills of olden days … weaving, blacksmithing, growing food, sewing quilts, making soap, forming pottery, crafting furniture, raising animals, and more. At this fair they sell their items and demonstrate their knowledge to an audience of thousands, many of whom are normally contained within a hectic, disconnected world of traffic, technology, and city life. I know for me, it’s a rejuvenating dip into the past and proves that working with your hands and being familiar with the natural world is good for a healthy wellbeing.

While I was there, I couldn’t help thinking how seeing all these old ways of doing things would provide a historical fiction or fantasy author with great research fodder. Imagine writing about a Scottish family that weaves and how much easier it’d be if you saw a loom in motion and a blanket taking shape and were able to get one-on-one answers for any questions about the process. The two demonstrations that particularly fascinated me were horse training and linen making. 
My mom loves to wear linen clothes, and I always feel a timeless, natural, healthful aura around the textile. Like wool, it makes me think of the past because linen was important in ancient times; it’s mentioned all over the Bible. Cotton is more recent and more ubiquitous. But only when I saw the process of flax becoming linen did I really realize how special it was. 
File:Östgötaslätten vid Ljung.jpg
Flax Field in Sweden, wikimedia commons
Looking at a flax plant, a piece of woven material seems worlds away. The most striking thing about flax’s early weeks are the sky-blue flowers that, pooled together, look like a field dropped from heaven. When the plants are harvested, all their parts are used for something useful: flaxseed becomes a food, an oil, a nutritional supplement, and a wood finishing product; flax stems become linen; and chaff from the process becomes nesting material or (in olden day) pillow and mattress stuffing. Linen is two­three times stronger than cotton and lasts so long it can be an heirloom. It’s fascinating to see the dried stems get pounded into fibers that look like hair (“Girl with the Flaxen Hair,” anyone?), carded like wool, and then spun (I love spinning wheels!) into thread. It can be dyed, bleached, or left natural. 

Here is a beautiful video that demonstrates the whole process!


I think what thrills me most about flax is how every part has been indispensable to humans since ancient times … the fact that it’s so useful testifies it was specially created to benefit us, God’s beloved creation.

So, perhaps one day a family of flax farmers or linen weavers will be the feature of a fiction of mine. That’s where story ideas often starta small image or concept that can be connected to others and grown and woven into a beautiful cloth.

What old-fashioned crafts thrill you? Has researching or already knowing how to do a handicraft or old sport (cooking, knitting, archery, et cetera) informed your stories?


  1. Congrats to Faith!
    I love little story ideas that appear out of nowhere and remain on our minds until they're written into a story. Linen weaving is such an inspiring creative thought . :-) I've considered learning to crochet or knit. It's rejuvenating to work with our hands in this tech-filled world.

    1. Thank you for your comment! It's great that these ideas stay and, for the most part, wait patiently until you can use them. : )
      Crocheting or knitting would be very relaxing and rejuvenating! I've knitted a scarf and a hat but would want to do more.

  2. Congrats to Faith! :)

    Yayyy that England Adventure is almost ready!! That is so exciting! :D EEE. ^_^ *holds breath waiting for cover*

    Ooh, yes, fair-thing! That's cool you went. ^_^ Spinning is so fascinating, isn't it? I once did a little bit of drop-spindle with some wool, and it was HARD. I don't know how they do it so perfectly. XD

    I haven't knitted or crocheted in a long time... I do want to start again, I just have so many other things to do! But yes, knowing how to do something can offer great inspiration. :)

    1. Yes! I hope the cover will be done this week! *holds breath too*

      Wow, that's interesting you even did a little bit of drop-spindling! I remember reading a book where a little girl of 4, 5, or thereabouts doing that ... so that must be how they do it so perfectly. Years and years of work!

      I've wanted to knit again, too, but I know what you mean about other things to do ... I have to need a break, and I have to be in the mood. :)

      Thanks for stopping in!