Stitches of time...............

I can't remember a time in my life that I didn't love beautiful linens. I grew up in the Age of Aprons. That ended right before the Age of Aquarius. Pant suits and culottes rang a death knell for fluffy, ruffly aprons.

And as much as I admire, appreciate and aspire to be Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug or Jane O'Reilly............ I wish they could have burned bras and broke glass ceilings while embroidering a tea towel or wearing a cross-stitched gingham apron. Equality and liberation took a huge toll on a girl's trousseau. How can you hand embroider a 60"x120" long tablecloth and 8 matching napkins when you are trying to keep up with the guys in the boardroom?

Even though I do embroider some of my own, I love to search out wonderful pieces at sales and thrift stores. And here are some of my newest finds.

I love the table topper above. Appliqued poppies, pretty bright embroidered asters and bright red rick-rack. How can anyone give away something so lovely?? Yea ... there was/is a stain. But how cheerful and bright! It makes me smile everytime I see it.

This is my current favorite tea towel. I love tea towels for lining a basket or in the case, an old wooden bowl. Next week -- I'll use my "latest" favorite tea towel. But for now ... I love the cheery flowers and the pretty crocheted edge. And it makes me wish that I had watched my grandmother crochet more carefully.

This set is more like I would/ would have done. Cross-stitched on linen ... beautifully hemmed-stitched by the owner. I found this set at a benefit garage sale for $3.00

Colors seem a little garish ... maybe a little too 1990's for me to really appreciate at the moment. But look at the lovely hemstitch. I wonder if my eyes would let me do that now.

This last picture is one of my downfalls. Absolute perfection. Every single stitch goes the same direction. The thread is run through the stitches perfectly ........ not a knot in the set. I was raised that its not worth doing something half-way. Perfection was always the goal. Not enjoyment or satisfaction or creativity ...... the goal was always perfection.

I have worked very hard to break that. (OK -- it didn't take all that much! All I would have to do if I really wanted to find out how imperfect I am .... is ask my mother! She would be overjoyed to point out all my faults! Heck! I don't even have to ask.)

The last ten years, I have pushed myself creatively. I paint ... badly. But I do it. My knitting isn't as perfect as it used to be but somehow, the socks still get worn. I doubt if I ever spin a yarn so fine that it will knit a shawl fine enough to go through a wedding ring. But I can spin a warm yarn to knit a sweater to do chores in.

I have discovered joy in the process. Not the perfect completion of a project. And that is what I love about finding old linens. Particularly those that are stained and maybe torn but well-used. Practicality and joy and beauty were the goal....... not a perfect item to store in a cedar chest.


Jennifer said…
I too love old linens! & my best friend for the most stubborn stains is powder Oxyclean in a bucket of the hottest water your hands can stand - fill just until the fabric is covered, immerse the fabric and use the stained area to agitate the powder into the water and let sit. Doesn't fade designs and lifts the most ancient stains.

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