In rural charity shops in England there is almost always a snowy pile of vintage linens. For £1 or sometimes £2 you can snap up these pieces of beautiful workmanship. Deeply out of fashion the table cloths, dressing table sets, handkerchief cases and sideboard runners lay unloved and difficult to repurpose for modern life.
The Victorian linens are often fragile and holed; the stitches keep the fabric together. The 1930’s items are made of coarser pastel linen and the 1950’s needlewoman’s work is coloured with thicker threads and sometimes more abstract designs.
A Christmas stocking filler was the Good Needlework Gift Book from the early 1930’s. As it says on the cover ‘fascinating stitchery described in detail’. It was bought for us because of our interest in craft, design and 20th Century social history and it pushes all our creative buttons. Sadly, although our skills with a needle and thread are used in our work from TheBigForest, we are not going to embrace needlework.
We have a small collection of ‘linens’ – rescued from the charity shop display when the craftsmanship was so wonderful that to leave the item behind with its pocket-money price tag was too painful. The tablecloths with their embroidery cottages and hollyhock, the tatted edged huckaback guest towels and tray cloths hardly fit with our mid-century home but they still give great pleasure, the needlewoman’s skill appreciated and then tucked back in a drawer.
One day, maybe soon, we will metamorphose in to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and have tea and cake sitting before the fire with an embroidered linen serviette, pot of hyacinths tea cosy and cut work tablecloth all starched and proper.
Ps: We have been unbelievably busy making and writing – which is why there have been no blog posts. As they said, we understand, in the early days of television when there was a technical glitch, ‘Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible’.