Since February 2015, this website has been presenting rare linen embroidery threads from the 1960's under the name of Linladan, which simply means flax barn in Swedish.
Linladan was planned as a short project while living between the west of Sweden and the Welsh countryside. It was estimated that the project would last one, two, perhaps even four years, and by the time the main stock of old linen threads ran out, another idea would have formed. I (founder, Swedish Tanja) worked with textiles as a designer & maker in Japan, UK and Sweden over many years and already had natural fibres, interesting threads and stories as a guiding light. Being a supplier of materials was a completely new path though, even if the collecting of nice and unusual materials from good sources had been important all along.
Instead of a short project, my interest in the linen industrial heritage turned into a mission to revive old colour charts and threads. I loved searching for and finding old houses full of forgotten haberdashery, then bringing out the discoveries to other makers, while learning so much.
It was during this work I took an interest in an especially intriguing Swedish company, the textile house Nordiska. Established in 1879, it's archive had been saved in an old linen factory by the building owner, and had a major collection of original drawings, pattern charts and embroidered samples, some of which we have started to reproduce. It took two years to find the archive, then another to figure out how to start reproducing.
Today's work is based in beautiful old town Bristol, within the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter. The new chapter is called Studio Flax. Flax is not only the name of the plant which our threads are spun from, in Swedish it is also an expression of unexpected luck, which is exactly what got all of this started.
Stumbling onto a large room full of pristine 50 year old linen embroidery threads was nothing but pure flax.
Our beautiful vintage linen embroidery threads Linblomman (The Flax Flower), Linda by Marks, and classic Nordiska are products of Sweden's textile industry in the 1960s. As the workshops closed down, the remaining stock ended up hidden away in stockrooms for decades.
An old Scandinavian proverb tells "Ull blir mull och lin blir gull", (Wool becomes dust, flax becomes gold) and we have found the latter to be true: linen stays beautiful and strong, ready for stitching now or in 50 years. It's intrinsic qualities makes linen ideal for heirloom stitching.
For the last few years, apart from spending countless hours on the floor in a room full of thousands of hand drawn patterns, I have met and spoken with most of the living artists that worked for Nordiska, and a person hugely important to the project, Mr H, who was in the Nordiska leading team during the 60's.
All of the people that I have met are wonderful - strong, creative and with a lot of knowledge that they have generously shared.
I am eternally grateful for the support I have received from the old Nordiska team and their families. To Mr Leo who single handedly saved the Nordiska embroidery archive from being lost forever: thank you from all of us!
Since 2015, when this project started, a lot of more materials than linen have been found and presented here on this website. Antique silk, vintage Gutermann, Dursteler and many thread brands that does not exist anymore. Samples of each thread found is kept and catalogued, the aim is to find more information about the different threads, and find the nearest contemporary version for the 60's embroidery.
We are a tiny team working with other tiny teams in Sweden, Denmark, USA and the UK. From Bristol we ship linen worldwide, to a select few stockist, textile artists, private linen embroiderers, lace makers looking for threads made a century ago, and bookbinders using our mid century silk.
Please send an email if you are looking for anything in particular,
we would love to help you!
The contemporary linen we make is produced under the name Studio Flax.