Thursday, December 3, 2009

Linoto Belgian eco-linen from Libeco-Lagae

Beautiful Linoto eco-linen fabric is sourced from Libeco-Lagae, two legendary Belgian linen mills established in 1864 and 1858 respectively which are now combined. The quality and care that goes into producing this fabric is immediately evident. I was first impressed with the substantial weight and the satisfying flutter the linen makes when spread out on the bed. The surface is smooth, lustrous, and cool. This is a true high-end product meant to last for many years. All flax production and linen manufacturing is, by nature, more ecologically sound than cotton. Flax crops don't require irrigation. This means significantly less water is used. Flax crops also require an estimated 85% less pesticides than cotton crops.

Why is this linen designated "eco-linen" ?
Libeco's has an exceptional commitment to ecology and sustainable manufacturing methods. Unlike most linen fabric, this incredible flax is dew-retted. This means, in agricultural terms, that the flax that is eventually spun into eco-linen yarns is broken down naturally with rainwater and morning dew rather than with chemicals and massive quantities of water which speed up the process.

Other sites may advertise their linen sheets as raw and organic but this is misleading. Organic items must be certified by a third party organization such as the CCOF. Today no organization is certifying flax/linen manufacturing so we don't call our eco-linen sheets organic. What we can guarantee is this:

Eco linen is pesticides free.
Eco linen contains no chemical softenening agents
Optic White color achieved with non-toxic oxygen-based solutions that remove color safely.
"Natural" color linen sheets are unbleached, dye-free raw linen.

Friday, August 14, 2009

castile soap to launder linen

I recently visited New York's union square farmer's market. If you've never been, This is an incredible place to find beautiful local produce, tropical plants, and great pieces of artwork and crafts. I bought fruits and vegetables including some incredible summer raspberries. To my dismay, when I returned home I found that incredible summer raspberry juice all over the bottom of my linoto linen tote bag. My first thought was that the bag is surely ruined. Raspberry, along with red wine and cranberry juice are among the toughest stains. I was desperate and determined to save my beloved tote. It's been so useful all summer long. I used a few drops of Shadow Lake organic castile soap which I'd recently purchased as a hand soap. Amazingly, like a magic trick, the raspberry stains disappeared before my eyes within seconds of applying it. Since then I've been using it on my own linoto linen sheets with incredible results. It leaves the linen feeling soft, clean, and inviting. I'm not saying that this will become linoto's main laundry soap, but it is certainly a wonderful product. I often say that mother nature has solutions to most of our little day-to-day problems. This soap is a perfect example. Instead of bleach or some harsh chemical detergents, natural vegetable based soaps save the day! I'd love to hear from others who have used castile soap for laundering linen or any other fabrics.

Sleep Cooler, Sleep Better

Did you know that sleeping in a cool, dry environment helps you sleep better? This is backed up by the findings of new research published in The New York Times. Please note: you may need to create a login/password with NY times to view this article.

If you’re like many people, you have fond memories of falling asleep under heavy down comforters in a chilly winter’s room – the fireplace’s embers slowly darkening as winter nights grow longer. Or perhaps you have a wonderful recollection of sleeping under the stars, snugly wrapped into a sleeping bag – breathing deeply the crisp night air, as the stars twinkled above. As it turns out, those deep and restful nights of sleep may be directly connected to the temperature of the space you were sleeping in.

Researchers in the United States and France have determined that the ideal sleeping temperature for most individuals is 60-68 Degrees Fahrenheit (15-20 Celsius)! Moreover, some studies have revealed that insomnia may be partially caused by an inability to cool your internal body temperature sufficiently – leading to uncomfortably long nights of tossing and turning.
And who among us hasn’t woken up – at least once – to flip a pillow because it had become too warm? It all goes to show – being cool when sleeping is a good thing. With their substantial, soft feel and extraordinary ability to breathe, linen bedding from Linoto is the easiest, greenest and most luxurious way to stay cool at night.

Linen’s ability to cool compared to cotton is positively extraordinary. Did you know that thread count for cotton refers to the number of threads woven per square inch? That is, the higher the thread count, the less breathable cotton becomes? Similar to silk, high thread count cotton is the warm sleeper’s worst nightmare: slick and impenetrable, your core temperature rises throughout the night – and waking up in a puddle of sweat is not abnormal.

But with linen bedding from Linoto – every night is a cool, dry night. Even when the temperature in your room is within the ideal range, Linoto linen helps maintain your body’s cool, and – especially when used with a duvet – ensures you are absolutely comfortable without making your skin feel warm, thereby lowering the quality of your sleep. And, linen is blissfully dry – resisting moisture even in the most humid of environments.

So, if you’re having trouble sleeping, consider lowering your room’s thermostat and using cooler, more breatheable bedding. Try a set of Linoto linen sheets for your bedroom today and see why thousands are making the switch to linen bedding.

Linen bedding by Linoto: the greenest, coolest and most durable luxury bedding available.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Why do you like linen sheets?

I'm curious to know why others are drawn to things made from linen, especially linen sheets as they are the most tactile way of experiencing linen. There seems to be two camps: Those who, without question, want linen sheets, linen napkins, linen towels, etc. and need only to decide on colors, styles, and their budget. Then there are others, perhaps less knowledgeable or particular about fabrics, who never thought of sleeping on linen sheets and probably need to try it before they will commit.

To me, linen feels supremely natural, like spreading out on cool dry grass in the summer to watch the clouds roll by. Spreading freshly laundered linen sheets out on the bed is like laying down an oasis of goodness from the earth. I love sleeping on linen sheets because they always feel cool and dry. The weight and tensile flutter of the linen has a substantial feeling of quality.

Today I received a message from a woman interested in linen sheets. She was interested in rougher, heavier feeling linen. She said the rough heavy linen reminds her of family heirlooms and things passed down from one generation to the next. She specifically didn't want the linen to be too soft. From my experience, all linen becomes soft with time and additional washing, nonetheless, her request got me thinking about why others enjoy linen. Please feel free to leave a message and join the conversation.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Linen Sheets: online comparison shopping

I founded linoto because I love linen sheets. As a designer I enjoy creating beautiful things that feel special to me and to others. Also, I was unable to find colorful, affordable linen sheets in modern styles. Occasionally I like to see what's available from other lines. I searched online for queen size real flax linen sheet sets (flat sheet, fitted sheet, 2 pillowcases) shipped to New York, NY. My results are listed below.

I did not find tremendous innovation in styling or customization from most manufacturers. The biggest surprise is the lack of information on fitted sheet depth. It's great that Williams-Sonoma offers monogramming, although that makes the items non-returnable. The Linoto Belgian Eco-linen is certainly of the same quality (and likely from the same mill) as that sold at Frette for more than three times the price. I love the colors at Belgianhuis. Bed skirts are also an excellent offering. But Linoto remains the most affordable option for 100% linen sheet sets in a wide range of colors and styles. Linoto also allows you to choose from two mattress depths and 2 pillowcase styles. I'm sure I did not include every linen sheet line in my survey, but I'd love to hear from others searching for linen sheets. I hope this is helpful.

price includes shipping
fitted sheet is offered in 10-13" standard depth or 14-19" deep pocket
you choose pillowcases or shams
available in 19 colors
made in USA
arrive washed with biodegradable laundry soap

$1,735.00 if you live in a state with a retail location or $1600 if not
fitted sheet depth not provided
1 pillowcase type to choose from
white, ivory, natural available

goodnightnaturals (AreaSimone)
price includes $8.72 shipping
fitted sheet depth not provided
1 pillowcase type to choose from
white, midnight, charcoal available

goodnightnaturals (Matteo bedding)
price includes $8.72 shipping
fitted sheet depth not provided
1 pillowcase type to choose from
white, greige, earth available

fitted sheet depth not provided
1 pillowcase type to choose from
many colors available

price includes $15.75 shipping
fitted sheet depth not provided
1 pillowcase type to choose from
ivory, natural available

price includes $32 shipping and handling + $25 in taxes if you are in a state with a retail location.
fitted sheet depth not provided
1 pillowcase type to choose from
(monogramming available)
white, ivory, natural available

price includes $22.95 shipping and handling fee
available in white, ivory, natural
fitted sheet depth 14"
1 pillowcase type
made in USA

price includes $18.95 shipping and handling fee
available in plum or bark only (as of 5/19/09) no white
fitted sheet depth not provided
1 pillowcase type to choose from

In the last 2 years, little change has occurred in the affordability of linen sheets. Only 1 company, Linoto, offers 2 fitted sheet depths (10-13" standard depth or 14-19" deep pocket). This is important because mattresses come in many depths. Only 3 companies, Linoto, Belgianhuis, and GarnetHill, offer linen sheets in colors beyond white, ivory, and natural. The most affordable company to purchase a queen size set of linen sheets is Linoto.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

how to extend the life of your linens- oxygen bleach and air drying

Use oxygen bleach and line-drying to greatly extend the life of your sheets. At linoto we sell 100% flax linen sheets, curtains, napkins, and bath towels, but this information is useful for cotton items as well. Any reference to "linens" in this post refers to flax linen or cotton.

Everyone loves crisp, clean white linens. But if you've ever used chlorine bleach regularly, eventually your linens become yellow, brittle, and begin to tear or fray. That's because chlorine bleach is caustic and weakens the fabric. Chlorine bleach is also a very strong irritant to the skin.

How to use oxygen bleach:
The best way to safely whiten your linen sheets or cotton sheets is oxygen bleach, an environmentally safe alternative to chlorine bleach. Oxygen bleach works very well and doesn't damage the fabric with repeated uses. Oxygen bleach is only recommended for white linens. Use rubber gloves. Direct skin contact with oxygen bleach isn't recommended and it will dry out your hands! First, fill a tub with just enough warm water to cover the sheets, pour in a generous amount of oxygen bleach (approximately 1 cup for a large load of whites). The oxygen will create a foamy bath. Be sure the crystals are fully dissolved before you put the sheets in. Submerge the sheets completely, stirring occasionally. The trick here is patience. Soak your sheets for 12-24 hours for best results. The longer they soak, the better. One of the great benefits of oxygen bleach is that it's very difficult to damage your white sheets because it doesn't destroy the fibers as chlorine bleach does. Rinse and wash in the washing machine as usual. This process also works in the washing machine and is especially easy if you're able to pause the wash cycle.

Where to buy oxygen bleach:
You can find oxygen bleach in most grocery stores. You'll save time and money when you buy bulk quantities online. I prefer Oxy-Boost brand. You can purchase Oxy-Boost online at

How to air dry your linens:
The drying machine drastically shortens the life of your bedding. The combination of hot, dry air and tumbling will quickly destroy even the most durable and beautiful fabrics. Traditional dryers also consume large amounts of gas and/or electricity. If you must use the dryer, set the heat to low heat or no heat. The worst thing you can do is leave your linens in the dryer until they are bone dry.

The trick to air-drying is to let gravity do the work. After the final spin cycle is complete, neatly hang the wet linens over a railing, shower curtain rod, or clothes line (folding them in half if necessary). Gravity will remove the big wrinkles. Remember to hang the linens neatly as they will dry in whatever state you hang them.

In some cases it may be useful to first dry the sheets in the dryer for 3-5 minutes on the lowest heat setting to re-orient the fibers and remove excess lint before you begin the air-drying process.

I hope this info helps you. If you have additional tips please share them with us.
If you're skeptical about the environmental soundness of oxygen cleaning products do your own research. I found an interesting post from someone trying to learn more about oxygen bleach.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The truth about thread count. Cotton vs. Linen

For people who have never slept on linen or thought of linen as a fabric for bedding, the first question is almost always about thread count. Does linen have the same thread count as cotton? The answer is, unfortunately, complex and introduces some interesting and troubling facts about the way thread count has been marketed.

Perhaps the greatest misconception is that higher thread counts equal better sheets or softer fabric. Not so. More surprising still, is that the numbers advertising 600, 800, even 1000 thread count sheets, in many cases, are false and misleading.

Technically speaking, thread count is the number of lengthwise and crosswise yarns counted within a 1” x 1” square. Thread count is dependent upon the quality of the yarns and the tightness of the weave. To increase thread count, many manufactures combine multiply plies of yarn or add filler yarns to boost the thread count with no benefit to quality or durability. Higher thread count does not equal a more durable or long-lasting fabric. The stress imposed on a tight weave can also cause the fabric to break down or tear much more quickly, despite its silky smooth finish.

I used to own expensive, high-end cotton sheets that touted a thread count of 800, a dubiously high number, I’ve learned. Often, I’d wake up sweaty and uncomfortable then end up throwing the sheets aside. Blech! Think of this: The fabric used to make hot air balloons, parachutes, and windbreakers is also high thread count. By design, it prevents air from passing through it. This is called “low porosity”. When the same idea is applied to bed sheets you have very tightly woven and smooth fabric that doesn’t breathe.

Cotton yarn is made from many very fine and absorbent strands of fiber- think of cotton balls. The fibers, spun together, form a single piece of yarn. Longer fibers mean less ends and a smoother yarn. The more finely twisted the yarn is, the smoother the fabric will be. Combine fine absorbent strands with a tight weave and you’re left with a fabric that, when exposed to moisture, is slow to dry and can leave you feeling sweaty and damp.

Linen is from the flax plant. It is fundamentally different than cotton in that the strands that make up the yarn are much larger grass-like stalks that are hollow. Think of wheat stalks. The large stalks, while still incredibly absorbent, can not be woven as tightly together. Therefore, the thread count is significantly lower. The hollow linen stalks absorb moisture and, because of the air in the center, release moisture to dry very quickly. The benefit: cool, dry air is free to pass through linen. You’ll notice linen always has a cool, dry, earthy hand that feels comfortable against the skin even in humid weather. Linen softens naturally when the fabric is used and laundered.

I would love to hear from others about thread count and what they’ve learned. Please let me know if this information was useful to you.