I discovered quite a find at a yard sale... a complete vintage set of days-of-the-week embroidered dishtowels in excellent condition. They're certainly not scare since there are many versions featuring different characters such as chickens, bears, etc., but I hadn't seen this birds theme before. For over a hundred years, each day in a housewife's life had its own task so the work got done in a logical, orderly fashion as the week progressed. With a few variations, it went like this:
Tuesday-Ironing and Mending Day
Wednesday-Garden Day or Sewing Day
Sunday-Day of Rest to Honor God
According to "The New Homemaker", there was logic behind this. "Laundry was far and away the heaviest task a housewife faced, requiring a great deal of strength and fortitude to hand-wring clothes and carry big baskets of wet laundry to the clothesline from the washtubs. Monday was the day to do it, when you were still fresh and rested from Sunday. Tuesday's ironing combined with mending made sense when you'd just been through the clothes and noticed what needed a button or a patch." On Wednesday, gardening was the logical choice during the summertime with sewing projects taking its place during the cold winter months.
Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, I remember my mother's ironing ritual following washday. Prior to the wrinkle-reduced features of permanent press and polyester fabrics, ironing without steam irons required alternate methods to remove wrinkles from cotton and linen fabrics. To prepare clothesline-dried laundry for ironing, my mother spritzed the items with water using a glass bottle topped with a removable aluminum cap with small holes in it attached to a cork stopper. You could buy the complete sprinkler bottle unit or just the cap to use on an empty soda pop bottle filled with water. After sprinkling the laundry generously with water, she rolled individual items tightly in separate rolls and allowed them to rest awhile. The rolls were then put in a basket and covered with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out. Another method used in the day was to put the rolled damp laundry into a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. Using either method, the purpose was to allow the water to permeate throughout the fabric making it damp enough for ironing.
I decided to give it a whirl. I had cleaned out a kitchen drawer today where I store my linen and cotton napkins that I use for my bed and breakfast table settings. It is quite time-consuming ironing the napkins as well as tablecloths, so I am willing to try anything to speed the process. I'll let you know tomorrow on "Tuesday-Ironing and Mending Day" if our ancesters were on to something.