Homespun Linen


I’ve put off doing a post on home spun linen for some time now knowing that I could never do it justice.  I wasn’t there and can only write about something I have gathered information about which may not be as complete as I would like.  However, after being stored in a trunk for so many years it’s finally seeing the light and being purposed in ways that may not have been intended but this is part of the fascination.

I’ve acquired two bolts of home spun linen made by my mother-in-law over 60 years ago. One has a rough, coarser texture while the other is somewhat more refined.

A picture has been painted in my mind by my husband’s recollection of his mother’s endless hours of work weaving the flax into meters and meters of linen fabric.  As a young boy, coming home to hear the familiar sounds of his mother’s weaving loom must have been very comforting. The sound of the wooden pedals and shuttle also known as a navette guiding the linen thread back and forth have been forever impressed in his mind.

Weaving was by no means considered a hobby in those days.  The linen was used in various ways, towels and sheets are some of the finished products I have seen.  Apparently mattress coverings made from even coarser spun linen were filled with corn husks for a wonderful sleeping experience?  Not too sure about that, I’ve never had the pleasure.

This beautiful home spun linen had definitely been in a dark trunk far too long but since being well looked after remained in excellent condition. After making the long trip from Italy to Canada it seemed to have lost value in its original intended purposes but has now finally emerged from the trunk into the 21st century for uses that perhaps would never have been dreamed of.

While unrolling the linen one day just to see if it was all in good condition I experienced an absolutely incredible feeling! As I ran my hand over the unrolled linen I realized that it was more than likely that my mother-in-law’s hands tightly rolled up this linen herself. I felt the sense of accomplishment she must have felt after so many hours of work and count it an honour to be able to unroll it after so many years!

Just as I had never heard of a Lovey before, the words “baby sling” was just as foreign to me. I was challenged to replicate one and after the quick examination of a purchased baby sling the roll of beautiful, strong linen came to mind. The linen just happened to be perfect in width and I was able to unroll as much as needed without having to make any seams. I think my mother-in-law would have approved to see her great-grandson safely nestled in the linen sling worn by her grand-daughter made by her daughter-in-law!

A comment was made by her husband saying that she resembled a Greek goddess wearing this sling…not sure she was feeling like one.


Later on, a couple of tired looking pillows were re-covered with a fresh linen look…


…and you just know I’m up to something else!


A little credit for the Navette…


I can’t imagine how many times this hand crafted 5 1/2 inch long shuttle flew back and forth across the loom carrying the linen thread.  Faithfully performing its work for many years the wood is well worn and very smooth to the touch.

If it could only talk!


7 thoughts on “Homespun Linen

  1. Sue SpiVak says:

    I love reading your blogs and trying some of the recipes that I think I can handle. This one is really special. I can’t imagine how many hours went into making this beautiful thing and for Elizabeth to have used it for Holden must have been magical. Thanks so much for sharing. I think you should seriously consider writing a book. Recipes, memories. You really have a great gift in the way you talk about things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • domenicamanafo says:

      Hello Sue,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. Not sure if a book is on the horizon but then who knew there would be a blog in my life.
      Right now I’m doing the things I love to do best, cooking, baking, sewing and writing. What else could I ask for:)
      Also, hope you make yourself some fried calamari soon!


    • domenicamanafo says:

      Hello Barbara,
      Thanks for your comment.
      No book soon but I believe everyone has special stories to share and encourage all to write them down as part of family history. Generations to come will certainly enjoy learning a little more about those who came before them. I find that our children learn things they never knew about us by sharing the little stories in our lives..


  2. Rona says:

    I am so moved by this story and grateful that you have shared it here. Elizabeth really does look like a Goddess in this piece of treasured fabric. This is the stuff that binds generations of women together, like passed down recipes and cherished skills I have my grandmother’s crochet thread. Lots of it. When I made some napkin holders from her thread and her beads I had a treasure that was much more than I expected. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • domenicamanafo says:

      Hi Rona,
      Thanks for your comment.
      I’m envisioning these beautiful napkin holders that you have made and am sure they are one of a kind treasure.
      I see them as the continuing story of crochet thread that has eventually made it to you from your grandmother and lives on in these hand crafted holders. The story will undoubtedly continue as they are passed on to your children, grand- children and great grand- children.
      Lots of crochet thread holds lots of stories!
      Imagine the potential!


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