Before you yawn in boredom, let me explain. A local bookshop promotes a new title ‘The Art Of The Tea Towel’ by Marnie Fogg, hardback 144 pages and selling well.
That author could have been me!
Last year I posted about my cotton tea towels, their history and some photographs. Nobody, as far as I could tell, had done this before and I was rather proud of my efforts. This year Marnie’s book comes out and I’m kicking myself.
The ‘what ifs’ start – what if I had ironed my linen tea towels, what if I had borrowed my great aunt’s classic designs, what if I had posed them with kitchen utensils and what if I had pitched to a nostalgic publisher who loves tea and scones?
Would I have my name on that cover if I’d taken the initiative? Would, could, maybe…
Of course, there’s always the option of publishing my own tea towel book, but there would be the whiff of ‘copycat’ about it. I doubt the literary world is ready for another one.
Ever do something just for fun? Sure you have. From an impromptu picnic to cooking a lavish dinner. Sporty things, family things, shopping expeditions or entering a competition in the name of fun.
Recently I designed a book-themed teatowel for fun. There was a prize involved but I won’t dwell on that because I did not win. However, it did spawn this blog piece…
For those born into a dishwasher world, I will elaborate. A teatowel is used to dry crockery and cutlery. It is made of an oblong piece of linen or cotton material, naturally absorbent, hemmed on all sides and printed with a design. The design is printed on one side, in portrait position. Teatowels can be any colour, any theme, but traditionally the same fabric and size. They can also be displayed poster-like on a kitchen wall. The following teatowels are not ignominious!
Tourist destinations sell souvenir teatowels, the most glorious ones are those in public art galleries. Gift shops offer cute ones with flowers, teacups, recipes or cow designs. Craft groups use them as fund-raisers, while cookware stores display matching sets of oven mitt, apron and teatowel with a trendy designer logo.
I have a large proportion of Australian flora and fauna too well-laundered to show here. The examples displayed are the best I could find in the kitchen drawer. A lovely giraffe print from Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo NSW, was singed from a cooking incident. My recently purchased Cecily teatowel (below) is part of a book-themed series from New Zealand. It will not suffer the fate of another limited edition teatowel which, shock horror, was used to wipe the stove griller.
Teatowels sound old-fashioned and domesticated but they can become the focus of teenage washing-up disputes and used as a weapon to flick people. Snap!
Apparently teatowels originated in Victorian England and were used at teatime to keep the china in good condition. Baked goods were often laid on a teatowel to cool or alternatively kept moist under a teatowel. The name is different in different countries, in Australia a dishtowel/dishcloth is used for more heavy duty cleaning.
No doubt there is an online history of teatowels and teatowel aficionados around the world, but I am content in the knowledge that I have owned many useful hard-working ones over the years. Lightly imbued with nostalgia and sentiment, some were gifts, most I have bought, and one I designed myself which is not destined to be printed. That’s a good thing.