The voice of Kiri te Kanawa soars through our home. I’m listening to Chants d’Auvergne (songs of the Auvergne). I’m ironing napkins, gorgeous banquet sized antique linen damask napkins. The final, memory filled task of Saturday’s dinner party, a wonderful evening with friends and family. No ordinary napkins these, but heavy, large 24″ by 24″ drifts of shimmering white.
At the end of the evening the napkins soak in cold water over night. Then I wash them in more cold water, gentle cycle, mild soap, a little Oxiclean. I hang them to dry.
I spray them with L’Occitane’s lavender-scented Linen Water, and tuck them into a fresh white plastic bag for a few hours. It’s so lovely to see the beautiful damask patterns come to life under the heat of the iron. I fold the napkin in half and press a sharp crease, then fold and iron again. My Mother, who was a beautiful ironer would not approve of this. It wears the linen away. I like the sharp, crisp crease. I do the same with my linen tablecloths (it’s the French style).
The napkins, still damp and immaculately ironed, air dry. Then I tie each set with ribbons and carefully store them away. Such delight from a simple act.