Recently Al McCarvery of All Tea Towels got in touch to ask if I would like to do a review of some tea towels from his site. He has developed his business out of a passion for collecting tea towels. Well, of course if you've been reading for any length of time you know that I am fond of domestic minutiae, and you don't get much more domestically minute than tea towels.
I'm also a complete sucker for people with a passion for work-a-day objects -- there's nothing like talking to a collector to help you find magic in the mundane.
Al has some gorgeous designs in his shop, and I could have picked out a trousseau's worth if I'd had a mind to. Both my choices are gorgeously printed and luxuriously large. The Scandi folk art design (right) is cotton and the anemone is linen -- I selected one of each fabric in the interests of fairness. I've never been a huge fan of linen tea towels -- my mother has one with a 1978 calender on, so I know they are long-lasting. But my experience of them has been that they just move water around without actually drying. However, being a tea towel expert, Al offers some advice on his site about the correct seasoning and care of linen tea towels -- and having followed his instructions, I now understand the linen love.
Al has some other interesting tea towel tips -- he suggests using them to wrap presents, which is an idea I like very much (except that I'm cross I never thought of it in my quest to cut down on throw-away consumables). You could match the design to the gift -- perhaps this one for a bottle of wine, or this one for spring bulbs.
He also says they make excellent security blankets for small children -- you can pick a design depicting whatever they are into, and maybe buy two or three so you can sneak one away for washing. Alec was using the anemone to play "Where's the baby?" within moments of the package being opened, so I think we're on to a winner here.
I would also consider some of the botanical designs for stitching -- my Di Van Niekerk embroidery is printed on to a tea towel.
Since looking around All Tea Towels, I've been peering into our kitchen linens drawer and wondering if it's time to cull the torn and stained towels, just so we can stock up again with designs that will make us smile every time we use them.