She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands…she layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. —Proverbs 31:13
Flax (Linum usitatissimum) is the oldest known of textile fibers. It was used in the Holy Land for clothing, towels (John 13:4-5), napkins (John 11:44), girdles and undergarments (Isaiah 3:23 and Mark 14:51), nets (Isaiah 19:9), and many other items. Flax was an important crop in Egypt and was known and used in Canaan before the arrival of the Israelites.
Stalks of flax were laid on the flat roofs of the houses (Joshua 2:6), where the sun dried and blanched them. They were beaten to separate and soften the fibers, which were spun on hand spindles into thread (Prov 31:13, 19). The thread was then woven into cloth. The coarser the spun thread, the coarser the cloth.
Flax has long been a favorite in herb and flower gardens. Its delicate blue (sometimes white) flowers have five petals, and the slender stems grow to four feet. Start seeds indoors, or outside where the plants are to grow. In full sun, flax will bloom until frost.