Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mama's Lace Curtains - A Sunny Memory


When I think back over my childhood, one of the images I see is of Mama doing her yearly washing of all the lace curtains in our house. I don't remember if she washed them in the washing machine or in the bathtub, but it's the drying ritual that left such as indelible memory in my mind's eye.

This tedious chore had to be done in pretty weather on a Saturday. First, Daddy would haul the frames out of the garage for stretching the wet lace on. All around the outside wooden frame were hundreds and hundreds of little spikes, sticking up in a row. I remember helping Mama to put her curtains on these torture racks. I'd pull the bottom ones, while she pulled the top ones. Each outside loop of the lace was pulled until it fit over one of the spikes. On and on we tugged and stretched, until the whole curtain was attached to the frame. Left leaning against the clothesline in the sun, it didn't take long for the beautiful white curtains to dry.

The sun did its magic, so the pattern of the lace was perfectly symmetrical, with no need for any ironing. And they smelled great, too! If you've never hung clothes out to dry in the sun, you have no idea just how wonderful clothes can smell!!

In this day of wash and wear fabrics, it's hard to imagine anyone going to this much effort for curtains. And Mama wasn't a stay at home housekeeper, either. She had a full time job as long as I can remember. We did have a maid, who cooked, cleaned, and stayed with me until they got home from work, but these precious lace curtains were always something she took care of herself.

Maybe that's one of the reasons I'm drawn to look at any delicate lace that we find at Estate Sales. Sometimes we luck up on a beautiful piece that is not high priced, and they always sell quickly and with a nice price. I must not be the only one who associates fine lace, doilies, and cutwork with precious memories of days gone by.

16 comments:

Janey Loree said...

My Great-Grandmother's lace dollies, that she crocheted, belong to my childhood memories. My mother inherited the three pieces and placed them on a red corderoy Queen Anne wing-backed chair. I love lace to this day!

jan said...

If I remember my mother also did this with lace table cloths.

In an age of electric dryers, I always hang my sheets out on the line to dry. Mostly I love that wonderful outdoor smell. There is no perfume like it. And partly because I paid so much for high thread count that I don't want to leave any of it as lint in the dryer.

Dirty Butter said...

There are a lot of doilies in use at Daddy's house, still. I'll have to find a way to display at least some of them when I inherit them. I'm really not sure how old Mama's are, though, or who crocheted them. I never thought to ask her.

Dirty Butter said...

Mama had a lace tablecloth, Jan, so she probably did that one, too.

Lint!! I love it!! I'm far too lazy (busy?) lazy! My DH has been doing all the laundry for years!!

Heather in Beautiful British Columbia said...

I'll bet your Dad made the frames for your Mama! That would have been a tedious job, but oh so rewarding to have crisp white lace :) Nice story!

RUTH said...

What an intriguing picture that must have been and a beautiful memory

Dirty Butter said...

You're probably right, Heather, that Daddy made the frames. I've never thought to ask him, and it may be too late for him to remember now. He's almost 102!!

Dirty Butter said...

The smell of sun dried fabric, the effort of pulling and tugging on the wet fabric, the beautiful lace patterns ... yes, it is a beautiful memory, Ruth.

Marion said...

I have been fortunate enough to inherit lace tablecloths and doilies, crocheted by a great-grandmother. They are beautiful, hugely treasured. And they have incredible staying power too.

I use them regularly, and wash by hand when I do. The stretching of the lace sounds like a wonderful memory!

Sharon Lynne said...

You've just reminded me that I need to wash my curtains! And now I'm inspired to hang them outdoors for drying. I enjoyed reading about your your memory!

Dirty Butter said...

I'm glad you get to use your great-grandmother's lace and doilies, Marion. It would be a shame for them to be stuck away in a drawer somewhere.

Dirty Butter said...

HA! Sharon Lynne, if it helps you to get your Spring Cleaning done early, fine with me!! We have drapes, instead of curtains, so I vacuum them, but that's about it.

Nothing beats the smell of sun dried fabric, does it!

Tomas said...

Dear Dirty Butter,
thank you for nice feedback on my blog.
Your words revive me like sun the lace of your current post. I even visualize my pictures interwoven into your curtains... and sun does it magic-my blog Captain's bridge http://captains-bridge.blogspot.com/ shine with gratitude brighter than prior. Thank you

Dirty Butter said...

Those curtains were a work of art, Tomas. I would love to still have them, but Mama was not one to save things that she was no longer using. At some point they simply became more work than she could manage any more.

I appreciate your support, and you certainly deserve mine.

sarala said...

Thanks for visiting my site. This is a nice reminiscence. I'm amazed your father is 101.
I hope your health and his are as good as can be expected. I saw you have Parkinson's. You have a lot of battles behind and before you.

Dirty Butter said...

I'm glad you liked it, Sarala. My Daddy was still cutting his grass at 100, and he lived by himself, with a lot of help from us, up until Thanksgiving. This is his second time to be on Hospice, and his pacemaker quit working 2 years ago!! He's really amazing.

I don't think I'm going to be anywhere near as strong as he is when I get older, thanks to the Parkinson's, but longevity runs in my family.