If you have read me for a while, you’ll have understood that I have a rather troublesome linen addiction. That is to say that I don’t find it troublesome at all, because I just keep buying…. but if I hush the addict within, and listen to my quieter more discreet self who likes order in the house, then I’m forced to admit that I have run out of storage space for the many monogrammed bedsheets, the piles of tablecloths and the stash of napkins and tea cloths that I’ve smuggled into the house over the years.
I justify my addiction by using the linens all the time. Every bed in the house is dressed with antique sheets (you cannot beat sleeping in heavy linen, warm in the winter and cool in the heat) and I love to use old table linen for my dinners, the napkins look so pretty on a plate and the tablecloths fall so perfectly.
In my kitchen, I have a drawer full of old red-striped tea cloths, and that is what I want to to talk about today. Because I am still amazed, after all my years of buying antiques and brocante, at how often I can come across a pile of monogrammed tea cloths, over a century old and never used, not once.
I’m pretty sure they are often part of an original dowry chest, the fabric woven and hemmed in preparation for a wedding, monogrammed with the young bride’s initials, and put to one side to be used one day. And for some reason that day never came. Either she kept using the older cloths until they were completely threadbare, or could simply never bring herself to no longer have that pile of perfect linens in her armoire.
Whatever the reason, they come to our generation and present us with a choice to make. Do we return them to a back of a wardrobe or cupboard and promise to gift them to the next generation, or do we use them every day and enjoy them, and relish the quality of their fabric that is no longer produced?
I’ve told you what I do, I enjoy them every day, and trust that their fabric is still strong for years to come. But how about you? Do you believe in enjoying today, or putting aside for tomorrow?
And if you’ve bought some ‘new’ old linens and you’d like to read about how to wash them for the first time and how to care for them, then pop over to our new Magazine section on the Stylish French Box site, and all will be revealed