Browsing around in Boston during a craft show last year this small table covering was peeking out from an array of other cloth items. So I just had to investigate further. Originally I thought that I would throw it in a dye bath, but when I opened it up I knew that I would never dye this beautiful piece and it has remained in the same condition that I purchased it. I was told that it is Irish linen. It is very nice. The embroidery is perfect. There are a couple of faint tea stains on it but nothing that detracts from the workmanship or beauty of this piece. So it now resides at my house.
Linen is fabric made from the flax plant. The fabric is highly absorbent and lint free, by that I mean there are no stray fibers like you would find on other fabrics, so linen is favored for kitchen towels or tea towels. It is stronger when wet.
Linen is one of the oldest fibers known to have been used for clothing, bedding. The Egyptians used it to wrap their dead in it during mummification. It has also been used during war-time to cover portions of airplanes.
If you want to know a bit more about the history of linen take a look at these web sites –