Wednesday, September 30, 2009

30 September 1955 “The Hankie and the Linen Napkin”

sneeze2These two simple items and ideas can save you a lot of money and help the environment and give you a little pride along the way.
I know to our modern germophobic minds, the thought of the hankie being sneezed upon and returned to the pocketbook or pocket seems repulsive.sneeze Yet, if we launder them and have simply a set of seven (one for each day, though I am sure they could become addictive like potato chips!) we would have a clean one to use daily. Certainly, grabbing a Kleenex is easier and may seem more sanitary, but if it is your germs and you are merely applying it to your face, you cannot reinfect yourself with the sniffles!sneeze 3 Now, add to this the added bonus of the money spent on Kleenex and paper napkins etc. I know even my paper towel budget is easily cut in half since I started this project.
The linen napkin. I know use these every day for every meal. When we were first moving and had to share the little cottage with all our things tucked away and no laundry facilities I just bought some paper napkins and paper towel. I could not believe what I went through in that one week! The waste alone! And, you feel good and grown up when you unfold that linen napkin and place it on your lap before you begin your meal. It is as if you are saluting your hard work and preparing for that time you sit and relax at the repast you have created and enjoy good conversation.
It’s funny how our incessant need to make more items that make the day easier and somehow go by faster. Why is that? It seems, if anything, we are running about more and are more frazzled today with all the new things we have. So, though it is impossible to get rid of your cell phone or not have a tv or computer, why not add some old things and remove some annoying modern things that do add to your day. The Hankie and the Napkin. Simple. Easy to add to your life. Now, you are saving money and helping the earth. In addition to this, you have now given your mind and creativity a canvas for some fun relaxing art time. If you don’t have to throw away your hankie or napkin, now you can think, “Hmmm, I wish these matched my drapes or wouldn’t it be lovely to see a little tea kettle come to life and dance around my apron?” We buy at home stores sets of things and all the added bits that are produced to ‘match’ the decor we buy. We can simply buy some piece or something we like and then ‘match’ the decor as much as we want with our own hand, by painting or needle work. Then it is also uniquely ours. There is something cold about the homogenous ‘sets’ of things one can buy at stores. The landscape is becoming the same and now go to any house in America and see that set of sheets, matching curtains and towels bought at Target. There isn’t anything wrong with it per se, but it does stifle the creative element and again, the Homemakers best and most powerful tool is her mind. We should exercise and use it all times as an important part of our job. Rather we are a full or part time homemaker, the mind needs it’s exercise.
child hankie
Look at this adorable child's hankie. The idea instilled early on to have and keep something and use it with care is important.  With Kleenex and Purell (by the way studies have shown that overtly using anti-bacterial items actually reduces your bodies own abilities to fight germs. ) we are teaching our children to be garbage makers. Here is this thing, there is an endless supply, use it and then throw it away! That is a scary message, isn’t it! And with that goes the fun and creativity of having a hankie or napkin. Certainly the dexterity given to a small child (boy or girl) who would be given some simple needlework on a hankie and then the pride from using that is immense. vogartx Even the responsibility of sitting down like a ‘grownup’ and using a sharp needle would probably seem bad parenting today, which is silly. But, how can we teach children to be responsible and adult when honestly, are any of us?  No need to learn needle work or drawing if you just use a Kleenex and throw it away. I mean the fact that we even say Kleenex, it is the name brand of the product.
But, I won’t go off on another rant, so here are some cute images of different iron on transfers that were popular from the 30s-60s.
embroidery transfer 1 I think you can still find these fairly inexpensively at local antique shops and online I am sure at etsy and ebay etc. I would check local places first. I would love to share these type of items on my new website when it is ready.
embroidery dressHere you can see how one would make their simple dress patterns come to life or have a more unique style. Surely this was an iron on pattern you would follow, but you could also stitch your own design. When fashion has a particular ‘look’ then if you can’t afford the Dior dress you can follow the example of its line and make it your own creation. The power of fashion and industry in YOUR hands, don’t you love it?!
  Here is an example of the anthropomorphized items that were popular. coffee potThis image actually came from a site I found where the lovely lady was sharing some of her patterns like this. It is an example of the kind of links I want to make on my future site. To have a place we can come to find each other and such lovely people as she who are willing to scan and share patterns. 
There is transferan innocence about these that I find appealing. teatowels Though, once I would have scoffed at their twee sweetness, I now find them rather darling and the art historian in me wonders at this piece of Americana art form that deserves more research. If only I could live to be 300 I could someday write all the books I want. I could see a whole picture book/research book on these transfers alone!
Anyhoo, what was great about these simple outlined pieces of needlework, is they were perfect to teach little hands the art of needle and easy for a homemaker to have in her sewing basket for the odd rainy afternoon when the chores are done, laundry ironed and put away, a pot of tea and some pillowcases or aprons or Hankies that needed adornment. Such an idea today by the masses would be deemed, ‘a waste of time’ but by the very same people who would waste five hours sitting and staring at a box and doing nothing! (That’s TV if you didn’t get my image.)
So, even though I have never done any needlework before but a few stitches to hem here and there, I am going to get a box of plain hankies, sew up some plain aprons and buy some plain white cotton pillowcases and lookout! I actually had a great idea, I am going to copy my Pyrex pattern that I collect ( I once made labels for spice jars check an old post of mine) and use that as a pattern on some kitchen towels. Then I can embroider teal on white towels and white on teal towels, wouldn’t that be lovely? I know I don’t really need one more thing to do, but again, I find as I do more and make it a normal part of my life, I found room for more things. Of course, this might put back my correspondence even more, but just think of the darling hankies and napkins I will have! And what a great gift!
How many of you already do needle work? Have any of you taught your children this art form and at what age? Aren’t you itching to try some now?! I know I am!
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