Follow Up

About a month or so ago I wrote in a blog post that I have a terrible time using dish towels that have been embroidered.  I wrote about it in this post.  I just hate to see them all stained!!  About three years ago I bought a complete set of towels promising myself I would use them.  I didn’t and ended up selling them.  So I was at the thrift store and saw this towel.


There were some stains on it already so I thought to myself…I am going to buy this.  I should be able to get myself to use it because there are stains already on it.

In my mind I could hear all the comments that blog readers had written on the last post I did about dish towels encouraging me to use them…

JudyB wrote:  “I love embroidered dish towels! I don’t have any problem using them as it’s what my Grandmother/Mother wanted, but I have a terrible time throwing them away after holes and stains develop.”

Brenna wrote:  “My 97 year old grandmother recently moved out of her home. I was the recipient of several sets of embroidered towels. I’m fairly positive they had been in the chest where we found them for well over 50 years. I use the towels – what else should I do with them? They could sit in a box for another 50 years, or I can get a good decade of use out of them. It’s that, or my granddaughter finds them when they’re cleaning out my attic, at which point they’ll probably be falling apart. :) Someone I don’t know made them, but I’m going to appreciate her hard work hanging from my oven handles as long as I can.

Joanne wrote:  “I thoroughly enjoy buying and using embroidered items at sales. I think of the person who did the work and smile. I enjoy the connection to another generation. My friend’s mother always put her embroidered pillowcases away “for best”. I use every embroidered pillowcase and towel I find.”

ColleenM wrote:  “Jo, you are not the only one who doesn’t want to use her “good” embroidered dish towels. I recently decided to start using the ones I made for my “hope chest” over 40 years ago!! What was I keeping them for? For some relative to throw them in a bag and donate grandma/aunt colleen’s silly dish towels to the Goodwill after I’m gone?! Nope, not going to save things for good any more.

Diane wrote:  “I’m one of those that uses up nice embroidered dish towels that have been gifts. Love every minute of using them. Decided several years that what I leave behind maybe no one will cherish so why not enjoy it myself. I did save my mothers embroidered towels after she passed. I had been using them but put them away and they are going in a quilt I’m going to make for myself. It’s a memory quilt I’ve want to make for myself for some time now and one day coming soon will get going on it. Memories of my life.”

Susan the Farm Quilter said:  “My grandmother had a set of the days of the week dish towels that were new – she just had to save them for good – so I got them and I use them all the time! Just like our quilts, I don’t want them to be saved for good – please, love them to pieces!

Okay.  YEP.  I was going to buy this towel (for $1.50 by the way) and USE it.  I was going to use this towel.  It already had stains.  I could use this towel.  Yes.  I could.

So…I got it home.  I opened it up.  I wanted to see how bad the stains were…

Wow…it was a genuine feed sack.

The writing is still on it.

Then a small note came fluttering out of the towel….See?

AH…. It’s happening all over again.  Can I use this towel?  I can bet that this towel belonged to the lady who made it.  I can bet that as she aged she started to “put her house in order”…marking pictures, tossing junk, labeling things she thought was important.  I’m sure she inserted this note into the towel.  No one saw it…or no one cared.

YES!  I can use this towel and I’m going to.  Someone needs to appreciate her work.  Someone needs to honor the pride she took in making it.  That person is me.  I can’t promise I’d use a whole set of towels but I am for sure using this one.  Progress…people.  That’s progress for me!!

Thanks so much to all of you who commented.  I really do read each and every comment and so many touch me in ways you never know.  THANK YOU for your time in writing them and sharing a bit of yourself.

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16 thoughts on “Follow Up

  1. Ellie

    I’m so glad you wrote this post! Our mothers often saved things for “good” and never had the pleasure of using them. I know my children and their families won’t treasure these things so we might as well use, enjoy and appreciate the work that went into making them!

  2. Nancy

    We bought or home in Tennessee in 2011 and my sweet sister-in-law gifted us with not one but two sets of real China. One set was my mother-in-law’s and is Noritake and the other was her mother-in-law’s and it’s Imperial China. Both sets complement each other and we use them for breakfast, lunch and supper everyday. We’re in our 70’s and neither our children nor hers want it. No more saving for “good” or “someday”. Someday is here and we’re enjoying them. My husband loves seeing his Mom’s China each day as well as the other set. Enjoy and use your good stuff cause someone else may just toss it. Blessings to you and your family.

  3. Phyllis

    I am betting the person who wrote that note was born in the ’20’s. It looks just like my Mom (and Dad’s) writing.

  4. norma

    You know the things that are most special to families? The things they saw in use every day, some loved one working away at it. What would I rather see ,a beautiful quilt folded up and put away, never looked at OR a well washed, loved, slightly ragged comfort quilt? Please use the things I make. I make them with love for the receiver and I want that thought to float through their mind when they use it!

  5. Sandra B

    We have an old dish towel that belonged to my husband’s grandmother. She died many, many years ago at the age of 99…shortly before her 100th birthday….
    Anyway, this dish towel is not embroidered…it is red, white and blue, with pictures of kitchen utensils. It is showing a bit of wear, but I still continue to use it… Even after all these years it does a better job of drying dishes than anything I could buy today. And the colors are still vibrant….I love that dish towel…every time I use it I think of her!!! I cannot imagine putting it in a drawer.. At some point, I will probably cut it into squares and it will make its way into a quilt…like I said, I love it!!!

  6. Kristin Stonham

    My aunt had a six dishtowels embroidered by her grandmother, a gift at her parents’ wedding in 1957. No one had ever used them. She asked me to make them into a quilt for her mother, and it was the most fun I’ve had making a quilt! I string-pieced alternate blocks ala Bonnie Hunter, and posted about the resulting quilt here: https://tinkerstitch.blogspot.com/2018/05/nancys-quilt-finished.html. I stitched up the remainders of the towels into slightly smaller towels for daily use. This way the embroideries will be seen and loved every day, not just tucked away in a dark cabinet for years.

  7. Susan the Farm Quilter

    I am so glad you are going to use the embroidered tea towel!! Yay for small steps! I will continue to use mine, even with the holes and stains, because they really dry dishes well and they remind me of my grandmother. I’ll put them in a quilt when they are too holey to use.

  8. Donna

    Congratulations to you and Kalissa on #4!
    Good luck with your yard/garage sale.
    Use those embroidered towels! ;-)

  9. Kim LeMere

    Jo, I had to smile when I read this posting, so glad you are going to use this sweet towel, it is small steps that move us forward. When we downsized our home I made it a point to take only what I loved and WAS going to use, no more saving for one day. I love using my embroidered towels my grandmother made for my mother and my mother saved them…..just for me! I use them and love them, be brave my friend, use the towel.

  10. Kris P

    I am currently using the first ever hand embroidered dishtowel that my daughter, Jaime made in 2014 at age 10. Part of me cringes and my heart sinks when I see a stain, but when I use it, I remember her excitement at learning to embroider and her sense of accomplishment at completing it. She chose to give it to me, (and went on to make one for each of her grandmothers for Christmas that year) I want her to see me appreciating it and using it, so she learns to use the things she creates and enjoy them… Otherwise, the things we create become clutter and burdonsome.
    Thanks for something with use every day. I’m often reminded of my years growing up in rural SW MN. City and Suburb life is just different. I miss that ‘community’ feeling.

  11. Carol Lorraine Stearns

    I bet you could embroider that note onto the towel to remember the date it was made! As an interior designer, I encounter drawers of things my clients have accumulated. One client had a whole bedroom filled with battenburg lace towels, spreads, placemats, napkins, curtains, etc. You name it she had it handed down to her. She didn’t use it, her daughter did not want it. What happens to these things? And Battenburg lace was out of fashion then. I started using my mother’s silver set last year for everyday use. why not? We needed new silverware and there it was, in the drawer! I brought home an embroidered tablecloth from our church yard sale. I might just cut it apart and make either napkins or use it for dish towels. Use it up!

  12. Joyce Mrachek

    Jo thank you for reprinting your other post of comments. Yes I have embroidered towels and just received a baking towel from my dear sister. What is a baking towel? After your rolls or bread are out of the pan you cover them until ready to use of freeze. It will be stained but after I know it was from her it is a treasure. Thank you for letting use these precious gifts.

  13. Connie Taylor

    I have some embroidered tea towels that my grandmother made for me. I use them all the time. My grandmother has been gone for a long time now, but every time I pull one out I think of her. Yes, they’ve got stains, and some are getting holes, even. But the memories they bring are worth the wear. When they get too tattered to use any longer, I’ll decide if I can cut out the “good” parts and stitch them into something else.

    Connie in VA

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