ZEN AND THE ART OF LINEN

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I have a love of linen.

The ritual of washing and ironing.

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The shaking out.

The folding of linen.

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The smoothing away of memories of past dinners.

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The fragrance  of the lavender linen water as the iron slips back and forth.

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The ritual of putting linen in drawers.

The tying each set with ribbon.

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The linen waiting in happy anticipation for the next dinner party.

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It is a zen thing – this care of linens

This joy of knowing there’s a table-cloth waiting to become part of the ritual of dining.

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This luxury of the senses.

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The sheer pleasure that this small luxury is part of our home .

Home –  this place we go to be cosseted and renewed.

The maintenance of linen is not work but a labour of love.

A time of reflection.

To indulge in the simple pleasure of  luxury of the senses.

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25 thoughts on “ZEN AND THE ART OF LINEN

  1. You have a way of making everything sound wonderful, even ironing linen. Do you have something magical for washing windows?
    Love reading your blog my friend
    Love Donna Hall

    • I have a table-cloth of my Mother’s. It is elaborately adorned with cross stitch. It is too precious to use but I do take it out and just lay it across the table. Why shouldn’t it enjoy the art of linen. V.

    • Well, yes, matter of fact Donna Hall I do have something magical for washing windows. He is called Larry and he uses fifty fifty water and white vinegar with a drop or two of dish tergent – and a squeegy scraper. XX Ginny

  2. What a beautiful ode to linen! I cherish the linen my grandmother left me, although a bit patched here and there, it is beautiful and full of memories. I love how your store yours individually with bows- lovely!

  3. Words from pervious eras.
    Ironing is rather zen like. I ironed (standing on a box) all the flat pieces – that’s how you learned the skill. ( and it was since clothes had so much more detailing and everything needed ironing then)
    I have many of my grandmothers linens – and they were all kept with ribbons just like yours

  4. What a wonderful post! I adore linen too, and have managed to forage for some beautiful old French linens over the years at brocante fairs and markets (I’m lucky enough to live just across the channel from France). I’ve never thought of storing them so beautifully though; you’ve inspired me, thank you…. P.s. if you have any tips for removing wine and other stains from linen, that would make my day..

    • Kate I also collect vintage linen. You are so fortunate to be able to shop the brocante fairs. I have found my linens at thrift shops around Vancouver. This is how you get stubborn stains from linens. We have a product here called Oxy-Clean. It is a powdered oxygen bleach THAT DOES NOT TURN LINENS YELLOW. I have successful got old red wine stains out with it. Sometimes soaking the fabric for as much as two weeks (bad stains). Another stain that is almost impossible to get out is rust. You often encounter it with old linens. If you have something that is so badly stained you don’t want to use it TRY THIS. In a well aired area spray the stain with oven cleaner. You know that ugly stuff that you can’t stand and really shouldn’t use in your oven. Let it set for a while – then wash as usual. This is a intense method but believe it or not it will get almost any stain out. Good luck and keep me informed. Cheers Virginia

      • Virginia, your advice was a godsend, and so timely! We had friends to dinner last night and my linen table runner suffered a couple of grease stains; it is soaking now in Oxy-Clean and I have high hopes…. thanks again, Kate

      • Oh good, you’ve joined the magic Oxy-Clean society Kate. What sold me on this powdered magic was how it removed an old red wine stain from my favorite white T Shirt. I was thinking I would have to start wearing a bib – until I discovered Oxy-Clean. Virginia

    • I am rather besotted with linens.Kerry I always check Value Village and our local Ladner thrift shop for goodies. It is amazing what I do find – and most of the linens in beautiful condition. I seldom pay more than a few dollars for my finds so it really is thrifty. Needless to say there are no paper serviettes used in our home. Luxury on a budget! Virginia

    • You understand! And, here’s the beautiful part. There is always another piece of linen – a magnificent banquet sized tablecloth,
      napkins twenty-four inches square – waiting to be discovered, to be cherished, but most important, to be used. XX Virginia

  5. Oh Virginia………..another connection!!! I LOVE linens, especially old family linens that have the beautiful art of my ancestors stiched into them. The joy of feeling them and running my fingers over that delicate work. The joy of putting them out and using them and seeing guests admire the beautiful art. The joy of ironing them and folding them with care and tucking them away until next time. My Mother was the same…….and her Mother……….OH MY she created tons of magnificant hanidwork, still be enjoyed in our home today! My Grandmother made my Mother’s wedding dress and a giant linen and lace bouquet and my Mother made my Sister’s wedding dress. I am off to open the drawers and visit my linen friends. You made me laugh and smile!

    • Oh Tin Man, why am I not surprised. It seems we are such kindred spirits. It truly is “the beautiful eye”. This finding enjoyment from all things beautiful. We admire an artist’s masterpiece. We also admire the elegant needlework of past generations. I made my daughter-in-laws silk wedding dress. It was a work of love. Sewn into the hem was a hair from my head. Have a magnificent week-end. XX V.

  6. I have never thought of linen as beautiful as you show here, Virginia, and as much as I don’t like wrinkles and iron just about everything, I think yours look much better! 🙂 Lovely post, my friend…

    • Lauren my ironing buddy – my Mother taught me a great deal about ironing. One thing I do that she wouldn’t approve of is… when I’m ironing tablecloths and napkins I actually iron the folds sharp and crisp. She maintained that wears out the linen. I’m sure she is right but at this stage in my life I’m not worrying about how long my tablecloths are going to last. Besides it is very French to have sharp creases. And, you know how besotted I am about France. The big secret to ironing linen to a flawless finish is have them very very damp. It does mean going back and forth until the fabric dries but that’s the zen of ironing. XX Virginia

      • That’s interesting, Virginia, and I never thought of making the folds crisp! I’ll have to give it a try and see how they turn out! 🙂 Your photos are lovely, by the way…xx

      • I’m not really clever with complicated cameras but I do know what I want to photograph. I try my best. Now it seems to me it’s past your bed-time Lauren.(??) I so appreciate your kind words. XX V.

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