Saturday, July 30, 2011

Another project to finish

So, years ago, when my mom and aunt went through my mum's things, after she had been placed in a facility, as she needed 24 hour care, my mom brought home some of mum's things to me.  Some old buttons that were collected over years, that I treasure, and then quite a lot of these..
These transfers are for flour sack towels. Now, many people today do not know why flour sack towels are called that... let me explain, because it's a rant that I've been meaning to share, and this is my soap box, damn it. so.. 

Flour used to come in sacks, not made of paper, paper was very expensive to make, flour came in "sacking" you know, white material.  This was not wasted, it was used, for undergarments for children (my mom for example) or, they were cut out, and hemmed for use for drying the dishes.  Who had dishwashers after all?  This is where the rant begins, hold on.
Women had much work to do, but humans have always wanted to surround ourselves with art, with beauty, we crave it.  Women especially have tended to fill their everyday, practical possessions with beauty.  Not art to be hung on the wall, but art that was used, worn, covered our children's and our husband's bodies, and their beds.  Quilts, socks, sweaters, shawls, blankets, we've made them from new materials when we could afford it, and out of scraps of old things (old dresses became quilt pieces when the dresses could no longer be worn) so as not to waste anything.. who could afford to waste? Striped socks, after all, were striped only because you needed to use up bits of yarn that was left over from other projects. This is a rant, because so many of my friends, when I make things for them, don't want to use them, they want to frame them and put them on a wall... or I see these flour sack towels at antique shows.. like old furniture.

And we made our flour sack towels beautiful too.. my mother told me that my mum used to take seven towels with her during election day, when she and my mother's aunts would man the polls for the town, and she would take the embroidery floss, and each woman would get a towel.  By the end of the day, mum would come home with a new set of seven, the colors chosen by the woman doing the work.  I imagine that they discussed this with each other casually.  I bet my mom could tell, when mum got home, which aunt did which towel.. knowing my mom, I bet she tried to guess. My mom learned to embroidery on flour sack towels.. for that matter, so did I... After my first, laborious cross stitch, I still avoid cross stitch.

Circling back to the point, when I got those Aunt Martha's stamps, I tried to iron on the one in the picture up there (before the rant) and it was in red, and too faint to see.  I was so disappointed, I set the towels aside, they've been in a box for years.  The day I got home from my mum's funeral, John wanted to go to Joanne's for some gold ribbon for his Knug Fu belt... I went to the embroidery section (not my usual section as you know.. I was called, I swear) and I found this... just one was there...

It looked more modern, but is the exact same stamping... So instead of knitting lately, I've been working on these. 

 I've been asking various people at random intervals to pick out colors, people at work have gotten used to this, I had someone gripe at me the other day.. "HEY! it was my turn to pick the color for the guy's shirt!" (true story!)  My thought was to try to duplicate the different color choices that would have come that election day with my mum and all of my Great Aunts.  I'm starting the 5th one today, I've promised Sam that he can pick the color for the lettering (I always start there) but I'm going to be picking up my mom soon and we are going shopping today... I want her to pick out colors for the last one.  It's only fair.  

I will be using them, of course.  The ones I did way back in 2008 (you can see them in the history of the blog) have been well used, and need to be retired, they are stained with strawberry pop, and something greasy that John was cleaning up (God help me).  But these are to be USED, to be a part of every day. And I will save the old ones, maybe send them off to my quilting friends, they can use the old panels for quilting blocks.  Waste not, want not.. and everyday life, even doing the dishes, should be beautiful.


Pam said...

Oh, I love these. I have a bunch of old transfers that I've collected through the ages (none with lovely memories attached though).

Joan's Good Life said...

How fun! I've always wanted to do these. I've got a couple that I picked up in yard sales and such. But not a whole weeks worth! Perhaps I'll follow your wonderful example and make a set myself! ;-)

1000scarves said...

I agree, these things should be used and enjoyed. I love your way of poignant expression, very heartfelt and genuine. :)

Bonnie said...

Chelle, I came over from Pams' sidewalk shoes. I love reading about your escapades. This post made me nostalgic because I learned to embroider at 4 years old on flour sack towels. I still have my first one...a red beet. I have gotten much better at embroidery over the years:)