Cultivating flax in Novgorod Region

Flax is grown in the north-western regions, especially in the Baltic countries, Belarus, and Russia’s Smolensk, Pskov, and Novgorod oblasts.
Utorgosh is a station village in the Shimsk region of Novgorod Region, and the administrative center of the Utorgoshsk rural settlement.
The nearest urban community is Soltsy, a regional center in Novgorod Region, 78 km south-west of Novgorod. Located on the left bank of the Shelon river, it has a population of 11,900 residents.
Soltsy’s first mention in historical chronicles dates back to 1390, when a peace treaty was signed here between Novgorod and Pskov.
It has long been known as a center of trade, specializing in the sale of flax.
Flax has been cultivated since time immemorial. The finest in the world is believed to be grown in Tver, Kostroma, Novgorod, Yaroslavl, and Arkhangelsk provinces.
In Russia, two types of ordinary flax are grown: long-stalked flax with a slightly branched inflorescence and a higher stem, mainly used to produce yarn and the stockier ambrose with a highly branched inflorescence, mostly used for seed.
Flax is always pulled up (never cut) to preserve the maximum length of the fibers and also to prevent damage during the subsequent process.
Fabric was a vast source of revenue for the Tsarist treasury, as it was highly valued abroad and could be exchanged in large quantities for "foreign cloth and materials."
The plant is lovingly described as "northern silk," and articles made of linen are cherished not only in Russia, but also abroad.
At a time when linen production is declining almost everywhere, Russia has been steadily increasing its output.
The collapse of the Soviet Union led to many entrepreneurs beginning ventures into linen production, and the export of gaily embroidered Russian Linen pieces such as shirts, bedding, and table clothes is also on the rise.
Another popular use for Russian Linen is high grade linen canvases used by artists. It is considered by many to be the best canvas material available anywhere in the world and often expensive and in short supply.
Linen fabric is a popular choice for warm-weather clothing. It feels cool in the summer but appears crisp and fresh even in hot weather.
Russian linen is extremely durable and is especially noted for its "breathing" quality particularly when it is not hot ironed.
This has accounted for its popularity in work clothing in Russia, but even the common peasants shirts were usually decorated with the colorful embroidery that is the trademark of fine Russian linen.
The process for separating the fibers from the woody stalk can use either water or chemicals, but these are ultimately washed away. The fibers are removed and the other parts such as linseed, shive, and tow are set aside for other uses.
Next the fibers are heckled: the short fibers are separated with heckling combs by 'combing' them away, to leave behind only the long, soft flax fibers.

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