One of my small pleasures in life is the ritual of changing the bed linen. Aside from the delight of turning in at night to a fragrant and freshly made bed, there is also the pause in the day to press the clean sheets and pillowcases.
Time it right, and it's a simple, quick, and enjoyable task no matter what anyone may tell you. The right timing is damp dry from the line or dryer. Getting a smooth finish with ease requires a damp fiber and a hot iron. The work then just glides.
Beautiful linen should be enjoyed beyond just a prettily made bed. I find I most appreciate my collections when I am taking care with them. Laundering, and especially pressing, highlights the workmanship of fine linens like nothing else.
Displaying a pile of gorgeous bedding nearby triples the pleasure. I love looking at a wonderfully styled linen closet or shelf, don't you? But just a little quilt rack or linen stand in the bedroom holding the next change of linens is both pleasing and convenient. Even a small table or chair will do.
I realize that not everyone has my commitment to linen. I always have room in my house for a standing ironing board. The old-fashioned kind, of course. Nothing modern will creak just right when you lean and press into it.
Rumpled linen has become fashionable. I like a bit of that look myself. But there is nothing like laying your head down on a smooth pillow to take the cares away!
I'm often asked about my laundry secrets, and I don't have any. 1)Ward of permanent stains by inspecting before washing, and pre-treating with any standard laundry stain remover. 2)A cold water wash is important. Hot water sets in stains permanently. 3)For stubborn stains or to whiten newly purchased vintage linens I do a long soak (sometimes days) in Oxyclean or a non-chlorine bleach (the kind for colors).
The important thing is to enjoy your investment. Linens stay whiter the more you use them. And pure linen gets better and softer with every washing.
My eye is hungry for country white today. Not too bright. Just a homey, cozy, creamy, dreamy color, with a few flecks of brown mixed in. I want it soft and warm like what you get in the best quality melty vanilla ice cream with swirls of caramel, and a dollop of chocolate, and a lacy frothy whip of cream on top. Yum. . . .
The watercolor drawings of Edith Holden's book Nature Notes, published long after she had passsed on, have been described as having "the nostalgic charm of a vanished world." I suppose I am guilty of always pursuing that world. But how can one be nostalgic for a past one never experienced?
There are a lot of pretty things to be had in our own time. But charm is a quality beyond mere prettiness. Charm can't be mass produced. Sometimes it has to emerge from an object after a period of time has passed. And sometimes it's only a state of mind.
Charm has an idea of enchantment about it, as in something that takes us under it's spell, at least for a moment. It is the sober person's intoxicant.
Charm often requires looking for, or being creatively made. It can be practiced like the student in charm school (speaking of a vanished world), or cultivated like a garden. And it can be gathered up, piece by fragile piece, from the reaches of the past . . . .