Keeping Vintage Linens in the Family, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement

I have to admit I have no achievements this week — having an achievement would mean I finished something, right? But if I can declare progress as an achievement, I’m in.

Vintage Linens and Crochet

Still unpacking: I found these vintage linens.

These came from Bob’s family. I’m not certain, but I think his mother made them, and I’m elated to learn that her granddaughter, Bob’s niece, wants them.

Here’s a closer look at the embroidery:

Vintage embroidered dresser scarf

Dresser Scarf: delicate colors, tiny stitches, hand-crocheted lace

When I see things like this for sale in flea markets, I’m always sorry the family link has been broken. Like abandoned family photographs, linens are often set adrift. I packed a big box. These went into it too…

Bob's father's knitted hats

Bob’s father knitted these hats.

Bob’s father was a man of many achievements. He was in the hospital and needed something to do to keep busy, so he learned to knit. That year, we all got hats. Bob and I didn’t get around to wearing ours. Now I’m hoping the great-grandkids will want to. Here’s the comforter that’s underneath the hats – it’s going too.

Green patchwork comforter

Progress: the comforter, hats, and linens are packed and ready to go their new home. I’ll take them to the Post Office when I take these book and magazine donations to the library.

Boxes of linens and donations ready to deliverAs for progress vs achievement:

“If you can’t do great things, Mother Teresa used to say, do little things with great love. If you can’t do them with great love, do them with a little love. If you can’t do them with a little love, do them anyway.  Love grows when people serve.”

— John Ortberg: The Me I Want to Be  

And by the way, as frustrating as it gets sometimes, I’m still doing this sorting-out job with love. Of course I’m hoping that one of these days my progress graduates to achievement. In the meantime, I’m grateful whenever I can pass things along to family.

For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement

16 thoughts on “Keeping Vintage Linens in the Family, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement

  1. You always cheer me up and count that as today’s achievement! As a hoarder,too, I just love your honesty and down to earth approach. When I look at piles of stuff here, I think of your great posts and feel a sense of connection and always smile!

    • We should share tips on what to do with things — or maybe that’s HOW to do something with things — (I say as I sit here in my workroom where I accumulate piles of “I wonder what to do with this?” stuff. I have this attachment to things that belonged to people I love, and it makes it hard to let go even though I know it’s “just stuff”. Thank you for the kind words that cheer me up too!

  2. The things are going away to Bob’s niece? They look like they are new! I do see quite a bit of knits and handmade clothes in second-hand shops in Melbourne and always wonder why people give them away. Maybe they have outgrown their clothes or they have worn it for a long time and want to make room for the old ones. I’m sure, as you implied, some of them end up there because they are unwanted 😦

    I’m quire surprised the white embroidery looks so white. Recently while digging through my closet I found some clean white socks all yellow and stained with fungus (yellow, orange spots) :/

    • Yes, I’m so glad Bob’s niece wants to keep them. Her grandma did a lot of handwork and did it so beautifully. I was thrilled when Bob’s father gave us several pieces after her death. But now I have more than I’ll be able to keep, so I’m glad they can stay in the family. I think the whites stayed white because they’ve been out of the sun, and in a dry environment. The pillow cases had some stains that my mother used to call “rust stains”, that I treated and washed to get out. I’m pretty sure these aren’t the last of the linens either, so stay tuned.

      • Looking forward to seeing more linen from your boxes, you never know what you’ll rustle up next. “Rust stains”. Never heard of it that way. Good to hear that they can be treated. Maybe bleaching is the way to get them out/

        My washed white socks are kept in the cupboard…yet some of them get stains and spots over time (especially when I don’t touch them for six months or more). Very disappointing.

      • A fabric conservator told me the detergents we wash with leave a residue that stays in the cloth and can cause discoloration. He was cautioning me about care in washing delicate older pieces but I’ll bet the same goes for our every-day cottons. My seamstress friend who took some quilts a couple of weeks ago said “don’t use starch” when I told her about washing and ironing old linens. Apparently it can cause discoloration too and be attractive to insects. Who knew! (I just want things that are easy to take care of. Aha! how about we switch to black socks?)

      • I never knew that our detergents and washing powder can cause stains on fabrics. Thanks for the tip. Maybe that’s why our clothes tend to fade colour after we wear and wash them regularly in the washing machine. Or it could be the harsh sunshine that makes them discoloured, or a combination of both.

        I wear black socks to work. I don’t know what to do with the white ones at the back of my closet 🙂

      • Some dyes are not very permanent and tend to wash out. I had a dress once that had to be dry-cleaned and was apparently a problem. The cleaner people told me to remind them when I brought it in that it had “loose color” — a term which amused me. Socks: some of mine need to go to the rag (cleaning) bag. Hmm, sounds like I’m punishing them…

  3. Pingback: Finding Nemo in paper mache | Non perfect writing

    • I’m always glad to hear about photo collectors, glad to know you’re giving the pictures a home. It’s a mystery to me why people let them go, though I know sometimes families end up with boxes of photos so old that no one knows who they are anymore.

  4. I wrote a blog post on my grandmother’s vintage linens. I really treasure them as works of art but just have so many. Young women in the family are reluctant to take on more sentimental pieces as they try to reduce their own clutter.

    • Yes, I like to use some when I host my neighborhood dinner club, but it’s a big job to wash and iron them all afterward. I’m glad you used the term ‘works of art’ – I’ve been trying to think of what to put on an empty stretch of my dining room wall and I’ll bet I could find some embroidery to frame. Thanks!

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