Monday, March 24, 2014

The Lost Art of Tea-Towel Embroidery

Mom embroidered these tea towels in the 1950s while waiting for me to be born, and I know that's true because afterward she didn't embroider for seven years, having three more screaming babies in short order. She used these in her kitchen, because I recall misapprehending the image as "the dish running away with the spoon," but in fact it's a saucer eloping with a teacup. I hid this towel for years after it inspired rebellion among my own teacups and saucers. The salt cellar is backed with the forget-me-nots. Salt cellars, used for centuries, were outmoded in 1911 when Morton Salt made salt shake-able by adding magnesium carbonate. These designs came pre-stamped on the towels, and I still wonder whose surreal dream-images they were.

Bringing them out of storage perhaps ten years ago, at first I was careful with these towels, as a new mother is very very careful with Baby #1. They proved sturdy and colorfast. I now use them regularly and think of Mom. For a Scout badge in Embroidery, a Scout leader--not Mom--taught me running stitch, cross-stitch, French knots, and huck-a-back stitch. I haven't done embroidery since, but a keyboard is a kind of sewing machine.

1 comment:

Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

Delightful! I love your words about this as much as your mother's tea towel embellishments.