Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Never Ending Piles of Laundry

Last week we talked about washing, or not washing our quilt fabric.  There was a lot of discussion and personal input.  Some said they only do wall hangings which can be heavily embellished, so there was never any thought to laundering.  Others are "recycling" found fabrics.  We all agreed those needed washing before adding to our stash.  Thanks to everyone who chimed in with their thoughts on the subject.

But all this "laundry talk" got me reminiscing about laundry day(s) when I was growing up.  It was a big production even with only 3 kids.  My husband comes from a family of 7 kids - I couldn't even imagine!  Of course, he was a "city" kid and his family was probably "automated" before my "country farm" family.  But it was still before disposable diapers and other modern amenities.

We, my mom and I, started by sorting all the laundry.  Yeah, that part hasn't changed.  Laundry was washed in a wringer washer and three laundry tubs.  This wasn't the actual wringer, but very similar.  The three tubs were arranged around the washer and were for rinsing and fabric softener after the wash cycle.  We didn't start with fresh water every time.  Laundry was like children - we all got the same bath water!

I was fascinated by the wringer.  Mom fed the laundry into the wringer with a stick.  Stirring the hot steamy water and picking out the garments one at a time to feed through the wringer. After convincing her that I was equally adept at the process, she gave in and allowed me to "feed the beast."  My attention span was short and it wasn't long before "the beast" attempted to suck me in with the laundry!  Luckily Mom was close and came to my rescue by releasing the rollers thus freeing the laundry and her youngest.  Needless to say, I was done with that machine and thought hanging laundry outside on the line was much safer!

We filled the backyard with laundry lines.  There were two permanent ones and several temporary lines that ran between trees.  They were "solar" dryers before solar was cool! Laundry was hung and taken down when dry only to be replaced by a freshly laundered load of sheets, tablecloths, linens, towels and the usual laundry.  When I was talking with my Mom recently about this blog, she reminded me about the wire frames she used to put inside my Dad's pants while they dried to assist in placing a crease.
A small pan of starch was mixed on the stove.  Not sure why we heated it, maybe to make it last longer.  It was for the things that needed a good crisp finish.

After the laundry dried, we folded as we took it down or piled it in baskets to be ironed.  I never understood the process of making it damp after we had just hung it to dry.  But sprinkling with water from and old pop bottle was the next step.
 And when I went to my mom's to take this picture, there it was right below the kitchen sink where it always had been.  (My husband was amazed!  I wasn't.)  Laundry to be ironed was dampened, wrapped in a large sheet of plastic and put next to the iron for the next morning.  It was time to feed the chickens, gather the eggs, and make dinner.

The next morning's chore was ironing.  
We had a special "beast" for that, too.  I thought everyone had one - an Ironrite Ironer Mangle.  Even Grandma, my Mother's mom, had one.  Ours sat in the dining room and was disguised as a very nice piece of furniture - covered by a wooden cabinet.  

Grandma's was white, but had it's own chair, and sat in the basement on the farm.  When Grandma and Grandpa retired from farming and moved to town it went to the garage.  She used it occasionally.  But by then, we were all into Permanent Press. 

 The Ironrite was wonderful for all those sheets, table cloths, etc.  It had a cloth covered roller that pressed the fabrics against a very hot iron plate.  You operated the roller with knee controls.  When I started quilting, pre-washing all my fabrics, and was ironing yards of fabrics, I often thought of that machine.

Loads, stacks, piles, and neatly folded and put away.  Then we did it all again...next week.

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