'That lucky old sun, got nothin' to do, but roll around heaven all day....' , a song I first heard covered by a very young Frank Sinatra. Why this comes to mind when I think of linen? Hmm.... The sun's seeming leisurely roll across our daily sky masks a huge world of complexity - our solar system. We mostly don't bother about the why and wherefore but happily accept its gratuitous warmth and elegance of function. Linen is like this too . While obviously not as old as the sun, it is one of the oldest textiles woven from the fibers of the flax plant. The Egyptians wore it in life and afterlife. Archaeological digs have unearthed remnants dating back to 8000 BC. So indeed a whole lotta sun in linen - the flax plant garnering its strength and exceptional textile qualities of absorption, coolness and freshness in hot weather. Linen may have a relaxed look but is truly an elegant work horse right up there with that old sun. And then there is Libeco linen.
My Libeco linen connection goes back to1999 when I first visited the High Point Market in North Carolina and there I met Amy Behn, creative director of Libeco. I remember treasuring the sample she gave me of a brightly coloured striped linen (which I used as a belt until I lost it... as it would never have worn out). Over the years Amy and I have kept in touch as mutual admirers of each other's work.
Libeco is one of the oldest linen mills in Europe dating back to 1858. Today, Raymond Libert (great+ grandfather is shown above) is the 5th generation carrying on the family business. I have never been to the Libeco factory in Belgium but feel that I have through my dear friend Sandra Todd. Last summer she traveled to Brussels to visit her childhood friend Pam and her husband Tommy). Sandra took our latest BBB in hemp to give to Amy to hopefully explore ideas using Libeco linen and our unique waxing process. Not only did Sandra and Pam complete the mission of delivering the bag, Amy graciously welcomed them to the Libeco corporate head office in Meulebeke, complete with a magnificent tour. Though updated with state of the art textile technology, the place oozes tradition and the next gen seems keen to carry on. Raymond and Amy's young son says he wants his Dad's job when he grows up and their daughter wants Amy's.
The tour was extensive and charmingly noisy as this machine clickety clacks all day long.
Meticulous inspection and 1 full day to thread this heddle.
Sandra and Pam hungry after their extensive tour of Libeco, followed Amy's advice and drove to Ghent to find her favourite cafe where all was perfect - food, wine, decor, service and sunlight — alongside the canal.
Sandra and Pam had the most wonderful day galavanting from shops to galleries but the Libeco sample room (of course) was the highlight. (Coincidentally, Pam's husband Tommy heard stories about the venerable and very successful company from a family member who dropped by for a visit the very day that they were filling their shopping bags and visiting the factory.) When they got home at dusk they had to make two trips from the car and discreetly bring in all their stuff. Some linens went directly upstairs to be laundered so they wouldn't look pressed and new. The next day they were fluffy and fresh and Tommy never guessed all the new purchases. Ah linen is so understated!
Sandra returned to Canada with three beautiful towels for my experiment as well as a very large Turkish towel that I want to hang on the wall as art. The challenge: could I transform the Libeco towel into a bag??? I was stumped at first... what to do with a tea towel. I rolled it over in my mind for too many months until a voice said “time I did something” and inspiration struck. The design kind of fell into place. The obvious was to call it the Tbag and the afterthought was who wants to be reminded of drying dishes, although no one could argue that linen towels are bar none the best. Decision: “Cabana” which I believe conveys the warmth and lightness of the Libeco linen. When I went to place our order for the towels, Ed Riesert, National Sales Director for Libeco Home was amazingly enthusiastic and said hurry up and send a sample to us at the High Point Market. We'ld love to show our customers. That was last week.
So welcome to my CABANA Hope you enjoy Earth Day and take a leisurely stroll under that lucky old sun.