Guest Blog from PAXfriend Jennedy Johnson:
” Lots of you have mentioned that this is your first “blend” (ie, not all cotton) wrap. So let’s geek out (a favorite pastime of this Librarian’s daughter)! Linen is made from fibers from the flax plant, is one of the oldest fibers, and one of the first that people made into string and cloth. In fact, archeologists in Georgia (the Eastern European country, not the state) discovered flax fibers preserved for over 34,000 years; to date, this is the oldest evidence of manmade textiles ever discovered! And those fibers weren’t plain…they have evidence of having been knotted and dyed bright colors like turquoise and pink! We like the way they thought!!!
Linen was a favorite in Egypt for many of the same reasons we baby wearers like it. Linen fabric is durable, lightweight and wicks moisture away from sweaty skin. It is also resistant to insects and microbial growth, and has a smooth, lint-free surface. Egyptians were obsessed with hygiene, so for these qualities, linen was considered pure.
Best of all, linen has a rainbow-y history! Alexander the Great challenged his generals to a competition to see which man could most strikingly dye his linen sailcloth. A few centuries later, it is believed that Cleopatra had a purple linen sail when she came with Mark Antony to Actium and that she sailed with the same purple sail as she fled. Additionally, when Caesar was dictator of Rome in the 1st c. BCE, he ordered linen awnings, dyed blue and spangled with stars, stretched across the whole of the Roman Forum, so that “those engaged in lawsuits might resort there under healthier conditions.”
Finally, linen has some unique characteristics, different than what you may see if you are used to all cotton wraps. Specifically, linen yarn often has “slubs”, or small knots/ thickened areas which occur randomly along its length. In the past, slubs were traditionally considered to be defects, and were associated with low quality linen. That view has changed however, especially due to the extensive use of linen in modern fashion. Nubs/ slubs (and the occasional weaver’s knot) are totally normal and do not compromise the integrity of the fabric. You may see similar properties in hemp blends, as well.
ETA: here’s an awesome reference with pictures of normal Slubs in a variety of fabrics. http://vintagefashionguild.org/slub-textured-fabrics/“