August 20, 2009

Of Tea Towels Past

So as I said, I am a bit disconcerted that the unsoftened linen cloth I bought to make tea towels was, well, not softened.

You might be wondering why the texture would throw me enough to mention it. Or maybe you're not, since most people interested in textiles and spinning are sensitive to texture. But, there is an additional explanation. Unsoftened linen tea towels have an old association for me.

In my childhood there were two sorts of tea towels. One was softened and one was not.

There was a soft linen set that came in wide vertical bands of monochromatic colours: shades of blue, or shades of orange. These were attractive. Well, not the orange but I don't think you could get through that decade without some orange. They were durable, and possessed that fantastic movement linen cloth has when you shake it.

I used a set a couple decades later in someone else's house and it took me back pleasantly, in a "yes, this is just like one of the objects I grew up with" way.

Then there were the other tea towels, the scratchy kind. I never wanted to touch them. They were, however, so assertive in their personalities I couldn't ignore them. I also couldn't see the attraction.

Never a set, these tea towels were printed with calendars or very, very English urban scenes showing all the sights in London. These were small symbols of empire, of our colonialism, of our genealogy.

The printing was crude, the colours were garish, and (to repeat myself) the texture was scratchy. I thought the manufacturers' attempts at imperial hegemony were odd, but more importantly I though their passing off loud and scratchy products was bad taste.

1 comment:

  1. The texture of a tea towel is everything in selecting a towel. Those with the best texture also worked the best, even to keeping bread warm to raise.


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