News

Inspiration

Every summer Lynn spends a month on Vinalhaven Island off the coast of Maine. It's a wonderful opportunity to recharge as well as to draw inspiration from the surroundings. This year was an especially fruitful one, and she left the island with a number of ideas for new patterns that will eventually make their way into our collection. She developed the ideas, then translated them into woodcuts, etchings or gouache paintings. The inspiration for these images are her gardens and island's tides, clouds, rocks and shells. She abstracted and simplified the patterns and will eventually manipulate them on a computer program that will help to envision them as a repeat pattern on clothing. We can't wait to get started on the new pieces and look forward to sharing them with you. 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer in Portland

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language."

― Henry James

 

Photo provided by South Street customer and friend Heidi Kirn. You can see her beautiful work here: heidikirn.com


Is anyone else amazed by the fact that it's August already? For those of us who live in New England, it's especially tempting to try to hold onto summer as long as possible. If you haven't visited Portland yet, what are you waiting for? We, of course, are at 5 South Street and an easy trip from the Old Port. Here are a few additional ideas. As always, check out https://www.visitportland.com/ to help plan your trip. 

Join Maine Historical Society executive director Steve Bromage for an insider’s view of the creation of MHS’s exhibit, Making Paper, Making Maine: https://www.portlandmaine.com/events/curator-tour-making-paper-making-maine-2/

The Maine Crafts Association will present the third annual Portland Fine Craft Show, featuring more than 100 juried exhibitors from greater New England:
http://mainecrafts.org/programs/portland-fine-craft-show/

Maine Sailing Adventures' 74' British design gaff rigged cutter Frances is a replica of working coastal pilot cutters that sailed the waters of Maine and New England between 1790 and 1812: http://mainesailingadventures.net/?utm_source=visitportland&utm_medium=directoryprofile&utm_campaign=visitportland

One of our favorite places in town is the Portland Museum of Art, where there is always something great happening: 
http://www.portlandmuseum.org/

Thirsty? You've come to the right place. Portland has more than its share of microbreweries and this is a fun (and responsible!) way to check them out: 
https://themainebrewbus.com/

Don't forget to carbo load at our favorite local bakery: 
http://standardbakingco.com/
 
Hope to see you soon! 

Linen 101

Everyone loves the easy wearability of linen. It's an everyday luxury; absorbent, cool and fresh in hot weather, it becomes softer with each washing. Unlike cotton, linen absorbs moisture without feeling damp on skin. It's durable and one of the few fabrics that's stronger wet than dry. The fibers don't stretch and resist damage from abrasion. 
 
Linen has a reputation for being high maintenance but it's really not; it resists dirt and stains, doesn't lint or pill and can be dry-cleaned, machine-washed or steamed. Its tendency to wrinkle is part of its charm. High quality linen pieces, including those from South Street, can be air-dried on a good hanger and worn without ironing. In fact, because linen fibers have a very low elasticity, they eventually break if folded and ironed at the same place repeatedly over time. 
 
South Street recommends washing garments in cold water in the gentle cycle or by hand, wringing well, hanging directly on a good hanger and tugging at the seams to set the wrinkles out; wait til dry and it's ready to go! South Street also suggests putting items in the dryer after each washing, when they are completely dry, for no more than two minutes, to soften them if desired. 
 
Linen is also easy to pack for summer adventures. Fold linen items around scarves, t-shirts, or pants, which prevents harsh creases. Upon arrival hang the linen items up while you shower to let them steam gently or lightly spritz with water and allow to hang overnight. 
This beautiful video to learn about the steps required to turn flax into linen:
Hope all your summer adventures are wonderful. 

Planning to Visit Maine? You’ll Love Vinalhaven Island

Portland, Maine is the birthplace and home of South Street Linen. We do, however, have another place that is almost as special to us: beautiful Vinalhaven Island. Twelve miles off the coast, it’s the state’s largest off-shore community. It’s famous, of course, for its stunning natural beauty and is also home to one of the world’s largest lobster fishing fleets. The year-round population is about 1,200 people, and they are joined by visitors from around the world in the summer months.

 

Lynn spends a good deal of time here in the summer, drawing inspiration for both her art and for South Street’s new designs.

 

We also have important partnerships here as well. Chris Clarke is the director and master printer of the Engine House Press, who prints all of our scarves. Artists from around the country come to Maine to work with Chris, who helps teach and assist artists in their own print making.

 

Phineas Fogge is a gorgeous shop in the heart of Main Street owned by Barbara Mintz and Marjorie Rosenberg. Their South Street Linen “pop up shop” was so successful that they decided to keep it going. They carry a wide selection of South Street Linen, along with a trove of other great items.

 

Green Granite Goat Milk Soap is the reason our Portland shop smells so heavenly. Alpine dairy goats graze on the wild Vinalhaven grasses and enjoy the sunshine and salt air. Everything at Green Granite is done by hand, from tending and milking the goats, to growing and drying the herbs, to cutting and labeling the soaps with handmade labels.

 

 

Best from Maine,

Lynn, Mary Ruth and Jane

Reporting from Naples

We just got back from a week in Naples, Florida. What a amazing time!
We were one of 28 carefully selected vendors in a trunk show to benefit the local Shelter for Abused Women and Children.
They know how to do it up right in Naples. The event organizers rented the ballroom at the Ritz Tiburon Hotel.
An endless stream of volunteers dropped by to help us unload and set up, fetch us coffee and bring us lunch. Best of all, over 1,000 attendees, dressed to the nines and eager to help the cause, canvassed the ballroom, plastic in hand.
We easily met our sales goals, but even better, we made a whole bunch of new friends. We want to give a shout out to Linda, who let us stay in her condo; to the world's most engaging customers - I remember Patricia, Mary, Maureen, Susan, Lorraine in particular; and to Bob Dombal, who was kind enough to hang out with Ren (our lonely male cashier) when things were slow.
It has been 15º and windy the past week in Maine. Trunk shows in the south are sounding better and better! 
Our next event is in Savannah, Georgia, February 19 - 20. Then it is on to Boca Grande, Florida, February 25 - 26. 
Come see us if you are there. Tell all your friends. Love to see you.
Jane

How we style it : layering linen in the colder months

 
 
It's the lagenlook, a style developed on the idea of layering. As a natural, breathable fabric, linen is ideal for layering like you would with cotton garments. Paired with a wool hat hand-knit by a dear friend or your favorite worn-in leather boots, linen is making the transition to the colder months. 
 
 
Many of our pieces are designed with each other in mind. The swallowtail vest (pictured bellow) Mary Ruth dreamed of wearing atop our French tunic. 
 
 
 
  
Cozy, comfortable. We wear the duster everywhere, over everything. It is our on-the-go garment. 
 
 
 
  
A mix of staple wardrobe pieces- down vests, wool sweaters, thermal leggings, insulate and create dynamic silhouettes
  
 
 
The pinnie is a jumper designed to be worn over garments. In these harsh Maine winters we wear it over thermal leggings and Comfy brand shirts .
  
 
 
 
Pops of color, like these poppy scarves, dot the snowy landscape that will soon be with us. 
 
 
  

Thank you, thank you

Thank you!
We are so grateful for:
Our new operations manager, Judy, for making our manufacturing process utterly dependable and for providing a structure that we never could have come up with but desperately needed. Thank you so much. We get how hard you work.
Our two bright-light art school grads, who not only do the everyday get-the-orders-out and work the shop BUT ALSO sprout  fabulous ideas and provide the talent to pull them off. AND they know computers. Did I say they are also delightful to be around? They are!
Our new pattern maker extraordinaire, Julie, who not only  makes design fun again … ok, her New Zealand accent helps … but who can communicate with others so that things actually get made! Makes us look so damn good!
For our graphic designer Lucian, the hippest boomer ever, who is never a bummer and who always comes up with wicked sharp ads.
For our stitchers. Great stitchers are SO HARD to find. They are the heart of our slow fashion commitmentWe bow down to you in total gratitude. We mean it.
To our models, truly beautiful women in every way.
To our customers, all shapes and sizes,  who GET what we are about and share our values of keeping it local, comfortable and beautiful. You have no idea how much you keep us going. 
In deep gratitude.
Happy Thanksgiving.
Lynn, Mary Ruth and Jane
Team South Street Linen

Slow Fashion

When Lynn, Mary Ruth, and I started South Street Linen, we shared some core business ideals: we wanted to design the clothes ourselves, we wanted to use a pure and noble fabric (linen), and we wanted to hire cutters and stitchers locally in the greater Portland, Maine, area.

It turns out there are lots of people in the industry who shared our ideals. There are enough of us now that people are calling it the slow fashion movement: keep your production local and high quality; use sustainable raw materials; know your workers personally.

We can't imagine doing business any other way.

Read what others have to say about Slow Fashion at Fashionista  and at NJLA.com.

South Street visits the Saco River Dyehouse

   Amongst the Biddeford Mills lies the Saco River Dyehouse, a rarely seen glimpse into the old textile world. It is one of a handful of independent Dyehouses in the U.S., the only one situated in the upper northeast. Inside the brick façade are many microcosms, working independently and simultaneously. The Dyehouse has yet to transition to newer dying technology and so there are many hands, processing and color matching and hanging to dry the bundles of saturated yarn before they become twisted into skeins or spun onto cones. This is one of the reasons South Street Linen has been drawn to Saco River. Much like our operations, the Dyehouse produces in small batches, carefully combing through the yarns. We are both woven into the textile of the slow fashion movement, taking a closer look at where and how our clothing comes to us.

   Claudia, one of the Dyehousesʼ original founders tells us the origin story of Saco River and how in 3 short years, it came to be the facility we were standing in today. The building itself is much like what you imagine an old mill building to look like- wooden beams, brick, cement. There are rows upon rows of metal shelving separating each hue of yarn, pops of color that permeate the space. Through the front entry, a woman could be seen using an automated metal hook mechanism to spin bundles of crimson yarn into twisted skeins, uniform, with their own irregularities.

   The center of the building houses different machines to wind yarn onto cones, pull yarn into manageable bundles, and prep the textiles for dying. There are rows of identical apparatus, long metal, spider like arms to manipulate material. All the machines run with the aid of a set of hands. It was incredible to see how analog the facility remains, relying mutually on these tools and the individuals' ability to operate them.

   There was a door off of the central space which housed the actual dying facility. It was smaller than imagined with a separate room for formulating each dye. A husband and wife team of dye chemists work on each formula in large metal pots like those you might use in an industrial kitchen. Here they work with organic and non- organic dye powders. A bag was pulled out, from it came the cochineal bug, used to make a bright red crimson dye. This and other botanical dyes arenʼt often used in the Saco River Dye House for a number of reasons. Because of the inconsistency in sourcing and processing, dyes made from this matter vary greatly from dye lot to dye lot which is not favorable when dying for a company that requires consistent coloring.

   Smaller ventures, like South Street Linen can work with Saco River on unique projects. In our case, fully realized garments are soaked in small dye lots for custom runs of color. Because of the flexibility and capabilities the Dyehouse has South Street is able to imagine any hue, including those unavailable in the general linen market and apply it to our designs. The citron dot scarves we drape over mannequins were once a gauze linen floating in a bath of color at the Saco River Dyehouse. To be able to collaborate in such an interpersonal way is a unique experience.

   

   This little laboratory of sorts, empties out into a room of steam. It smells like hot wool, thick, humid clouds rising from the metal tanks. A small crane pulls the dye lots from each vat and men aerate the batches. Through the open doors we saw long, indigo strands limply draining into colored pools. The bunches are transferred to the main room, where they dry in aisles of their comrades. Similar dye lots hang together, fans gently swaying them. They sit for two days this way. They move like something else, seaweed or branches or wheat fields.

   You leave Saco River, feeling like youʼve witnessed something otherworldly. Places of this kind are quickly growing obsolete. Hands replaced by metal. Warm bricks to sleek industrial walls.