Thursday, March 15, 2012

Irish Linen

I am absolutely in love with table linens! They grace the table with such luxury. I am so lucky to have inherited both my Mother's and Grandmother's table linens. Gorgeous damasks, embroidered, cut work, all with matching napkins. Perfectly pressed, folded, wrapped in tissue and stored in the cedar chest. My Grandmother once told me that she had only entrusted their care to best Chinese laundry in the Boston area. Pretty intimidating, huh?!

And such a waste too! Well, no more!! I want to use them and enjoy them. That was my Grandmother's philosophy. Unfortunately, there isn't a traditional Chinese laundry within a 100 miles to care for these beauties. So I did a little research on Irish linen and was pleasantly surprised to learn it's not so complicated and can be done at home. Yayyyy!

Irish linen is made of flax, one of the most durable natural fibers. These strong fibers can be woven into a very lightweight fabric. When properly cared for it becomes softer, brighter, and more lustrous! Passing from one generation to another. Excited to think I can pass these on to my Granddaughters someday!

Machine wash in cool to warm water. Use a gentle detergent like Ivory Snow or Woolite. Use an oxygen type bleach when needed. Never chlorine bleach which can cause yellowing. OK, I can handle that!

They should never be tumbled dry as that "over dries" the fibers and makes them impossible to press. Best to flat dry in the sun which brightens the fabric. Not very practical for most of us. Always iron while still damp, so take it from the washer to the ironing board.

Attend to stains as quickly as possible. Red wine - use sparkling water & rub. Blood - rinse in cold water. Grease - rub with ammonia. Ink - soak in milk or rub with a soap & ammonia mixture. Fruit, tea & coffee - rub with white vinegar & ammonia solution. Not so bad, huh?

So I will be setting my table ( without fear) with these beautiful treasures that have been so lovingly passed on to me. Reminding me of so many wonderful family dinners from days gone by. Even though I'm not Irish, I think I will start with a St Paddy's Day corned beef and cabbage!