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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hey, It's In My Genes

My Mother could never pass up old linens, especially those with handwork on them.
Mama wasn't a flea market kind of gal, but yard sales?
Oh, honey, pull the car over . . . now!

As an accomplished needlewoman herself, it pained her to see the old embroidered or crocheted linens that Granny or Great Aunt Swizmerelda had carefully wrought, piled up on a picnic table in a driveway -- for sale to any old Philistine with 25-cents.  "Heartless," she'd mutter.  "How can they bear to let these things go?" as she piled napkins and runners, doilies and tea towels, tablecloths and pillowcases over her arm. 

So you see, as I tell my husband, I am not to blame.  It's in my genes, this love of old hand embroidered linens; nature will out.  Mama taught me how to embroider and crochet, and how to adopt the orphaned handwork cast-offs of this world.

It's Tuesday, and I'm linking to several blogger parties -- you can find the links at the end of the post.
People are still selling Grandma's old linens on eBay.
Maybe their Grandma's, maybe someone else's, but the tablecloths and other goodies are out there.

My latest:  a big linen cloth, cross-stitched.  Wonderful heavy linen, skilled embroidery.

It's over 100 inches long, so it will work for our dining table when it's got just one leaf in it -- perfect for family meals!  

Along with that cloth, I found another from the same seller, also embroidered:

Sadly, not as skillfully done. 

Those Xs on cross-stitch should all be X-ed in the same direction.

Someone got a little laissez-faire in her cross-stitching.
I also eBay-ed old damask napkins.  Lapkins, almost -- 22-inches square.
In a rose pattern and in excellent condition.  Very, very inexpensive.

Here's a tipNapkins in odd-numbered sets often sell for less; people want even numbers.
This was a set of 5.  Went for a song, when similar napkins in sets of 6 sold for much higher amounts.

Me, I'd rather buy two sets of 5 napkins cheaply and mix them up, than spend a bundle on a set of 8 that match.
If your guests are looking that closely at their napkins,
get new friends, or pour the wine more generously.

You know that porcelain lamp I got a few weeks ago, courtesy Craigslist?  Story here.
The one that looks like some of the china patterns I have?

It has migrated to the parlor.  I adore it, although I'm still not sold on that enormous silk shade.
It's like the Guiness Book Of World Records' Giant Coolie Hat.

So today I fiddled with landscaping the table where the lamp has taken up residence.
A pile of books, of course -- this summer I'm in the mood for silly and am ripping through P.G. Wodehouse.
(Thank you, Annie!)
The garden is not giving any blooms right now except shriveling hydrangea blossoms,
some straggly phlox, one lousy gladiolus, and a sea of rioting Black Eyed Susans --not the look I needed!

So it's faux in the old Imari teeny tureen, an eBay find from last year.
I love that this little piece of export porcelain is as old as the room it is in.  And that is old.

I put a tea cup on top of the stack of books.
One tea cup, from the gilt and lustre ones from last year's VNA Rummage Sale. Story here.

Then changed it, to the Mikasa Shogun pattern that I got in Philadelphia last spring.  Story here!

Then changed it again, to the Mikasa Far East; I have service for 6-billion in this.

Which do you like?  I like #3, the Far East, which surprised me, as I expected to like #2 the best.
 Hmm... okay, I just now this very moment noticed that the shape of the cup, above, mirrors the shape of the lamp.
Duh.  Flat sides, Imari styling -- yeah, they belong together!

I had other things I wanted to photograph, but my camera keeps telling me to
change batteries, and I put new batteries in, and it says the same thing. Over and over again.
It's a naughty, naughty camera and must be spanked.

Now for those Linky Parties -- there are four of them!

Visit Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for Tabletop Tuesday.
And there's Tam at the Gypsy's Corner for Three Or More Tuesday.

 At Coastal Charm, 

She's featuring some great blog
giveaways -- go see!

And Bonnie at House Of Grace
gives us
Twice Owned Tuesday.

Click on any one of these ladies' blog party titles,
and see what our fellow bloggers are up to
this Tuesday.  Then, go to Goodwill or cruise Craigslist.
See you there!  -- Cass


  1. My mother and I have a hard time passing up old linens too. Between us, we have lots of mismatched sets and that is OK with me. Mom always says when they're gone, they're gone, so we snatch them up every chance we get. Thanks you for the wine tip. Now I know to pour more wine.


  2. Cass-I have so many beautiful things that both my mother and both grandmothers made by hand. I'm afraid it is becoming a lost art. I would NEVER put them in a garage sale--too afraid someone would come back to haunt me :) Besides that, I do a little needlework myself and know how much time and self is put into it! I agree with you--new friends or more wine for picky guests! You have a good eye!

  3. I have one new-to-me linen tablecloth, bought in Russia. Everything else is hand-me-down from my mother or MIL or from a sale. These things, if cared for, last forever.
    I like table# 3 the best too!

  4. Cass,
    Of course, #3 is the perfect choice. Even the flowers match. Gotta glass of wine is waiting.

  5. Very pretty....makes me want to pull out my cross stitch and get to work.

  6. All of the linens are stunning. I love them. So pretty. My mom use to make such lovely tablecloths with such beautiful needlework.
    Your lamp is fabulous. I love it and I can't believe how it matches the teacup and bowl. How perfect is that. Such a beautiful vignette. Thanks so much for linking to TTT. Hugs, Marty

  7. I always marvel at all the handwork in old linens...
    they are such works of art.
    Your lamp rocks girl!
    xoxo~Kathy @
    Sweet Up-North Mornings..,.

  8. Ahhhh Cass, don't even get me started on linens. I've spent this week trying to convince my husband that it's perfectly reasonable to have dishes and snack sets to feed 50 and yes we DO need all those tablecloths and pillow shams!
    xoxo Pattie

  9. I love your post on 'Old Linens'.. my mom passed those genes on me too! I am always looking in yard sales mostly.. better prices than flea markets...I have done my share of making them also and have passed them on to family and friends for gifts..
    Lovely post!

  10. Love the linens, Round Top, TX flea market next month, that is on my list.

  11. I like to mix my linen as well, also the tablesettings. I do like #3 teacup, first thing I noticed was the same shape and color. Take care.

  12. You know I don't mind a cloth napkin that looks comfortable with age (as we should also, eh?) and all your finds are wonderful. I lingered a very long time this summer in a big, inviting linen section of an antique shop. Funny that I hesitated on those uneven groupings, but I see what you mean. I want to take a vintage colorful tablecloth and make an "apron like grandma's" for my sister-my latest inspiration. We'll see ...

  13. I enjoyed this post! Well, I like the Philadelphia pattern-but may be partial! Your 'Grandmom' comments struck a chord as I was fortunate to find a few items two houses down for a song, but hope she smiles down as she sees how much I use and enjoy them:@)

  14. I knew your Far East and that lamp went together!!!! I knew it the moment I saw the lamp! Love the little tureen, too!

    And linens -- Linderhof's drawers and closets and bulging! Old linen with patina -- I sleep under old sheets -- and if they're mended that's okay too! Odd numbers don't bother me either.

    And believe it or not, I love to iron these old linens!

  15. I love old linens too. I love your tablecloths, especially that first one. So pretty!!! I get odd numbers of napkins too and mix and match them. Love & blessings from NC!

  16. I am a huge pushover for vintage linens, especially almost anything with handwork on it. The hours it took, the time spent with the piece -- I think you got some great, great finds. Love 'em.

  17. Was just about to vote for #2 when I noticed the lines of #3 were similar to the lamp's....then I read the rest of the post and realized I wasn't so smart after all!

    Spanking the misbehaving camera? Sounds a little kinky to me!! LOL!

  18. Cass,
    Love your post today. I am so lucky to have my grandmother's linens and embroidered pieces. No one wanted them and they were going to be thrown out!!! I like to mix the napkins as well.

    I have picked up some neat stuff this summer. Can't wait to get back to Florida and play dishes.

    I like number 3 but love cup number 1!


  19. I adore old linens....and I've said the same thing as your mother many times, "Why would anyone give these up??"

    I can't stop myself from collecting them!
    I love the look of your lamp, books and teacup vignette on the side table! So pretty!!!!

  20. Gorgeous, lustruos, bone-white could one bear to use them to wipe a drip of spaghetti sauce from the side of one's mouth?! They are such keepsakes. Your cross-stitch finds are fabulous, and don't you just want to find out the history of such painstaking work? Oh, and why did the one woman (sexist statement, but I believe it's justified) make a slight (humph, to my untrained eye!) mistake...could it be she was releasing the evil spirits, as the Navajo do with their weaving?? Oh, maybe not...just a bad day, and a wish to GET IT DONE and get some sleep!

    As for the Teacup and the Lamp, I like that #3 is shaped the same (unusual!) and the colors match, but I really like #1...the dark green seems to be a strong match, and the gold pops. But it's YOUR house LOL!! Thanks for sharing it all with us.


  21. I am a collector of textiles too, check out my blog!
    I linked to Coastal Charm for the first time and discovered a few new fab blogs, yours included! I am now a follower, thanks!


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