The Tower ‘o Tea Towels

I seem to have taken a girly turn here at C&C, what with aprons and perfume. No fear, my male friends, I still love gin, tasteless jokes and The Transporter movie franchise. (When are we getting a new one — I need my Jason Statham fix.) But I’m back to fabric and housekeeping (hilarious, because I suck at housekeeping) because of the denoument this morning of my Mess Hall Apron post. Here:

I walked upstairs to tuck it away with its pile of apron buddies in my bijou linen closet. I opened the door and was almost flattened by an avalanche of tea towels. Unused, virgin tea towels, some of them thirty years old, some three weeks old. I decided it was time to out myself — My name is Margaret and I’m a teatowelholic.

I know what you’re going to say: “Thats, like 27 towels? (Yes.) You don’t have a real problem — you’re just a social collector.” But I repeat: These are the never-used, pristine tea towels. It’s not counting the twenty that are in regular rotation because our dishwasher’s been dead for five years, and the ten stained ratty oldsters who’ve been demoted to household rags. And I know that on my next jaunt to Ikea, Homestyle,Williams-Sonoma  or the dollar store, even if I buy nothing else I’ll add to my collection.

Here are a couple of favorites from the tower, though each is special in its own way. My friend Priscilla in  California sent me this vintage linen beauty. (Note: I should have pulled out an iron, but as I said, I’m a crappy housekeeper.)

Love those California poppies.

This one is part of a set of five  from Elfi Nnicheri, Norwegian-Canadian opera singer married to an Italian-Canadian painter who worked with me at Holt Renfrew in Montreal. The occasion was my bridal shower, back in the days when tea towels and pillowcases, rather than a set of Shun knives were appropriate shower gifts. I have two left and they’re so beautiful I’ll go to my grave before they dry a tea cup. Damask woven in Hungary, and believe me, my (not) crackerjack photo skills don’t do it justice.

Then  there are the tea towels that got away. My standard shower gift for the bride-to- be is James Peterson’s Cooking wrapped in a tea towel and topped with a bow. I’ve doubled down: wrapped an apron in a tea towel for gifting. And because I love embroidery , friends have recieved tea towels embellished with tea cups, cats, and — thank you, Aunt Martha transfers — a chicken playing a guitar.

I feel better, cleaner now that I’ve confessed. And if you’re wondering about a suitable birthday gift…



Filed under Collections, Five bucks or fewer, Home, Needlework

3 responses to “The Tower ‘o Tea Towels

  1. Hmm. . .I’ve wrapped a Snuggie in a Sham Wow! before. It’s like the”As Seen on TV” version of you lovely cook book and tea towel version.

    I love using unexpected and reusable wrappings on gifts! Especially since I never have wrapping paper and always have to improvise. Of course, Japanese gift givers have special cloths just for wrapping gifts! I have a few and they make great “hobo” bags for bag lunches.

  2. Kim Shook

    I love tea towels, too, Maggie. At Rehobeth Beach, among all the tawdry geegaw shops and ice cream stands, there used to be, inexplicably to me, a linen shop. It was a treasure trove of tea towels, napkins, tableclothes and linen cocktail napkins (be still my heart). And it was all amazingly cheap. I still have some of the things that I purchased there – some still in the original crinkly plastic wrappers. When we go to England (next year, we HOPE), something that I aim to shop for are tea towels!

  3. absurdoldbird

    A few years ago we ran out of useable tea towels so I asked people if they knew where we could get some good ones (ie, good quality linen). Then I found some good ones (that weren’t linen) that did the job really well, but they weren’t anything to look at. And of course, when those arrived (en masse as I was so scared they’d never be sold again, I bought too many) our friends and family began giving us tea-towels! Now we’re in the same situation as you… and not many of them get used. They are nice to look at, though!

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