Växbo Lin: a love story of linen and cultural heritage
By Marie Westerman Roberts | Photos: Växbo Lin
Using traditional methods and modern design, the Växbo Lin factory in the Swedish countryside weaves, sews, and sells beautiful linen products. Its story is one of success against the odds and today, everything is just right.
The company Växbo Lin was founded in 1990 in the Swedish province of Hälsingland, an area renowned for its centuries-long history of linen production before the cotton industry took over.
Växbo Lin’s factory was built here during a time when much of Swedish industry had begun to move their production to countries with cheaper labour. Attempting produce linen in Hälsingland again was a decision against the odds, but today it’s a thriving business.
Växbo Lin is owned by married couple Jacob and Hanna Bruce. They bought the factory from previous owner Rolf Åkerlund in 2006. It wasn’t something they had set out to do but circumstances and enthusiasm gave them the opportunity; they took it, and Växbo Lin has become an important and successful business in the area.
“It’s the best impulse purchase we’ve ever made”, Hanna Bruce laughs. “We love what we do here, and we feel privileged and very proud to work with such skilled people and great products. Växbo Lin is one of few factories in the world that can present such a coherent chain of linen production. It’s 100 per cent pure linen made in Sweden. We are proud to be part of keeping the countryside alive, creating job opportunities in a rural area.”
Made with love
Maintaining and developing the cultural heritage and craftmanship while keeping the production in Sweden has been important to the company. The products, all in pure linen, have become very popular and to keep up with demand they are now investing 13 million SEK in six new weaving machines to increase production capacity.
Hanna has just returned from Milano, where she was placing orders for the machines. “We celebrated with champagne in the factory this morning,” she says smilingly. “All of us working here are so happy about this since it will make a huge difference for the production and for the future.”
One of their bestsellers is a bath towel that only gets better and more beautiful with use and, of course, the humble and very popular dishcloth. The weaving technique results in a fabric with a high degree of absorbency, while remaining supple. Linen offers a superior degree of moisture absorption, cleaning surfaces on the first wipe, and drying quickly afterwards. The linen dishcloth can be machine-washed at 60 °C and used again. Another big part of the production is textiles for hotels, restaurants, and public spaces, such as napkins, tablecloths, and curtains.
Visitors to the shop are also invited to take a tour of the factory to see how linen yarn is turned into shining linen fabric. This factory is one of few still running linen weaving mills in Sweden and it’s a great opportunity to see the work behind the products.
The process begins with preparing the warp – the basis of any weave. Up to 4000 separate threads are put together into a warp, with threads ranging from 300 metres to 2 kilometres in length. The next step involves knotting the warp threads to the loom and threading them through heddles and reeds.
When the loom is threaded, it is time to weave. Most of the machines are shaft looms which use the same shuttle technique as manual looms. One of the oldest looms is from 1923 with pattern cards using wooden plugs. Växbo Lin make their own pattern cards with a punch machine. During the month of July there are guided tours daily for visitors. For larger groups, guided tours can be arranged at any time during the year.
In a time where we need to consume fewer and better-quality things, products made from linen – a natural material that will last for generations – are the perfect solution. Linen is a truly beautiful material and, weaving together hertitage, love and stunning design, Växbo Lin brings out its very best qualities.
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