Wednesday, April 24, 2013
The lace, the embroidery, the linen quality just inflamed me. I had to have these napkin! Some of them were very fragile and almost looked like they would fall apart in my hand. Oddly, they were stronger than they looked and I still have them to this day.
I not only have them, I use them. And, I hand launder them and wrap them in special paper to keep them safe.
I had a dinner party several weeks ago that included my 20 year old grandson, Cyrus, and his lovely girlfriend, Alex. Alex commented on how wonderful the table looked and I pointed out the 100 year old napkins to her.
She said "I'm afraid to use them!" and I told her that was nonsense. As long as you launder them carefully, they should be fine, I assured her. Further I told her if she should marry Cyrus, I would give her these precious napkins. Both Alex and Cyrus choked when I made that comment. Oh well, she's a nice girl. He could do a lot worse!
My daughter Sheila, Cyrus's Mother, raised a napkin to her red lipsticked lips and patted gently while grinning her evil grin at me. I considered putting arsenic in her soup, but thought better of it. She is my only daughter, so I guess I'm obligated to keep her.
Now, I know that none of you think of me as Hannah Homemaker, and in most cases I'm not. But there is something about these wonderful old linens that just thrills me. I think I have about 100 napkins at this point and about 10 tablecloths, all of which are very old.
I find romance in thinking these things adorned the table of other people from a bygone era. I can't help but daydream about what the people talked about while sitting at the dinner table in the old days. What did they eat? Did they take care to rid the fabric of stains? Did some woman wrap a linen tablecloth with lace on it around her nude body and wander out into the field to meet her lover? (Well, it's an idea, isn't it? I can think of worse uses for a tablecloth!)
After use, I carefully soak the linens in very hot water and Restoration (a product to clean antique fabrics) leaving them to soak overnight. I rinse the cloth in white vinegar and hot water using a wooden spoon to swish the material around. I only launder the linens when it's nice weather and I can dry them on a table in the back yard, keeping them shaded to keep from over-bleaching the material.
I sprinkle them with distilled water and use a little "sizing" before I iron them. Ironing these 12" X 12" or 13" X 13" squares of cloth is oddly relaxing to me. I get in a rhythm and spend hours on the task generally while I watch something really fascinating on television (like "Jersey Shore", or "The Real Housewives"). There is something almost hypnotic about the experience.
And, as you all know, I can be a bad, bad girl.