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Suits Me to a Tea (Towel)
Wednesday 25th of August 2010 07:10 AM
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By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Kansas Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

 

I have learned a lot from my Facebook friends. And to think: A year ago, I was sure I would never join the Facebook fray.

For one, both my kids said they wouldn't be my friend. (Nothing like that memo to shoot a Mom's feelings all to heck.)

But then Jill relented. She saw that my brother and my two sisters were on Facebook. She saw the influx of people of "a certain age" clogging up the status updates on her account and declared that she would befriend me after all.

I still wasn't so sure about it. I can find plenty of ways to waste time. I didn't particularly need another way.

But, in the end, I figured, "Oh, why not!?"

I still am not the best Facebook person. I don't cleverly update my Facebook status often. I don't upload all my photos to my wall. Of course, as many photos as I take, that would get mighty annoying to my friends pretty quickly.

But I have reconnected with several people. And I've learned quite a bit (not always the most relevant things, but interesting nonetheless).

You have just witnessed why I am probably not the best Facebook person: It takes me awhile to wind around to the point. I am not known for my short, pithy commentaries on life. Facebook status reports are best reported in a short and sweet manner.

And what, pray tell, does any of this have to do with tea towels?

I know it appears we have arrived at this destination without any connection whatsoever. But, believe it or not, there is a connection.

When I posted my blog about my bread baking disaster, one of my Facebook friends asked why we call tea towels "tea towels."

Good question, but I didn't know the answer. No longer do we run to the cabinet filled with Encyclopedia Britannicas like we had when I was growing up. Instead, we "Google" it.

The name "tea towel" originates from England in the early 19th century. The tea towel was the linen of choice for the ladies of Victorian England. They often personally used tea towels when caring for their tea ware to avoid anything being broken by a careless servant.

(No servants around here, careless or otherwise. I seem to do enough damage on my own, however.)

Tea towels were spread over a tea tray before tea things are put onto it to keep it clean or used to cover warm scones or a tea pot to prevent heat loss. Some people confuse the tea towel with the dish rag. However, a tea towel is kept spotlessly clean, because it is used on freshly washed dishes and as a cover for food.

Embroidered tea towels became popular during the Great Depression and World War II in the United States. During this era, fabric and other supplies were in short supply, so people recycled what they had. Tea towels were frequently made from the muslin sacks that flour came in. To decorate the plain towels, women embroidered them, usually with cute animals performing household chores or fruits and vegetables. Towels with the days of the week embroidered on them were also very popular.

 

A few weeks ago, my folks gave me some tea towels to give to Jill. They think they were embroidered by my Grandma Leonard, my dad's mom.

Grandma had embroidered them, but my Mom finished the edges.

These tea towels feature the days of the week.


 

I gave the tea towels to Jill when she and Eric were here a couple of weeks ago.

Here is Jill at about 3 months old with my Dad, Grandma Leonard and me.


I still use the tea towels my mom embroidered and gave to me for a wedding shower gift 29 years ago. But they aren't used for mundane tasks like drying my hands. Rather they are used to dry dishes (if I don't let dishes drip dry) or to cover my bowl when I'm letting bread dough rise.

 

Tea towels have always been a popular sale item at our church's fall bazaar. But I think most of the people who have been practicing the art of embroidery have passed on. I have a couple stashed in a closet, just in case.

I hope when Jill uses the tea towels her great-grandmother made, she'll feel that connection to the past. (And hopefully, she won't be too mad at me that I never taught her to embroider.)

***

 For more information about me and my family, check out my personal blog at www.kimscountyline.blogspot.com

 
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