Textiles : a history by Fiona McDonald

By Fiona McDonald

The social heritage in the back of trendy fabrics - and the way they acquired their name.

summary: The social heritage in the back of trendy fabrics - and the way they acquired their identify

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The civil war took a heavy toll on America’s population, industry and morale. Slavery was abolished and slaves were officially made free people. However, it did not necessarily turn out happily ever after for everyone. Suddenly people who had been dependent all their lives were thrust into fending for themselves. The cotton magnates found they couldn’t work their plantations with paid labour and many former slaves were left homeless and jobless. It took a huge effort for America to turn this economic disaster around.

The fibres are held together in bundles of 30 to 40 fibres. Each stem has approximately 30 bundles. There have been traces of processed flax fibres found within a cave in the Republic of Georgia. The thread survived as an imprint in a piece of baked clay and has been dated to 34,000 years ago. Of course, a finding this old sparks heated debate as to the accuracy of the date given to it but the archaeologists are adamant that the methods they have used for both identifying the fibre and telling how old it is are dependable.

The hypothesis about these most ancient of textile fibres is that the plants from which they were processed were wild, not cultivated and that they were harvested from the surrounding area. Other ancient textile finds include bast fibres unearthed in the famous Lascaux Caves in France dating to 18,000 years ago. Nets made from two-ply willow bast have been found in Finland and have been carbon dated to 8000 BC. Flax or hemp bast nets from Lithuania and Estonia have been found which date to between 6000 – 4000 BC.

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