Friable cloth

Curtains I made 25 years ago did not survive the wash today. Hot water and bleach were perhaps a mistake. These were upstairs hall curtains and filtered a lot of morning sun in a quarter century. The muslin was friable! Some had shredded in the wash and some disintegrated as I pegged the cloth to the line.

For some reason, their ruination did not bother me — quite the opposite, in fact. It nearly felt as though something sacred was taking place as the fabric fell apart in my hands.

What the ragged cloth did with light was extraordinary.

Hanging laundry on a line satisfies a person in a way that most chores do not. Cannot. Is it because it hearkens back to our mothers in the same way that certain recipes do?


22 thoughts on “Friable cloth

  1. Jen

    I’m on my 2nd set of shear curtains for my studio. The last set looked perfect, but when I went to move them, they just fell to pieces. Amazing what westerly sun can do to even not so delicate fabrics.

    Reply
  2. Jenny M

    beautiful light showing thru the curtains…..and yes, hanging items on the washline does make me think of the women in my family that have done this same action over & over. And how over the years the items on the line, are like a timeline of one’s family….babies nappies, toddlers clothes, teenager’s sports gear and now as empty nesters, it is back to just our clothes.

    Reply
    1. deemallon Post author

      My mother quickly adapted to an electric dryer. My dad was a career engineer at General Electric. She also associated hanging laundry with the “shanty Irish”. Do I guess I am heartening back to my grandmothers. And yes, laundry is defined by who is living in the house, isn’t it?

      Reply
    1. deemallon Post author

      Next up: the silk from you. Some of the shredded strips of muslin are asserting a connection to the banner.

      Reply
  3. Ginny

    Circle of life as seen through the hallway curtains ❤️ Sweet.

    Trains are good for writing maybe you need a long solo voyage on the rails. Not sure why it works but it does. Maybe the same reason solo road trips aren’t good to clear your head.

    Reply
    1. deemallon Post author

      Regular train travel would probably do me a world of good. For reading too. I’ve noticed that when I fly I read significantly faster than when on land. This is weird enough that I’ve tested it again and again and it really seems true. I don’t know if it’s the pressure or something or the sense that time is limited. If the latter, it ought to apply to train travel, too.

      Reply
  4. Liz A

    Friable … a perfect word. And the edges of the cloth are like nothing you could create in any other way.

    Your clothes line calls to mind a Quaker tract by Kathleen Norris entitled “Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and ‘Women’s work'” … as I recall, the title promised more than the text actually delivered, but I’ll have to dig it out and reread it to be sure.

    Reply
    1. deemallon Post author

      You expect to be able to easy rip muslin in strips. But if fell apart in my hands. I’m interested in the Quaker reference.

      Reply
    1. deemallon Post author

      I could I suppose because it’s only the lining that disintegrated but they shrunk the first time I washed them and have hung an inch above the sills for years, so I don’t think so. I think it’s time for a change.

      Reply
  5. Nancy

    The shred, the light…the family of them out to sun together! And those tabs! I’d be tempted to add on a new bottom half and keep the top half! Love these photos. I used a clothesline in my early married years. Not a real place for one here as the ‘back forty’ is all dirt with a crazy neighbor who likes to do burnouts, kicking up all sorts of dirt and rocks. It would hardly seem sensible at this point! xo

    Reply
    1. deemallon Post author

      I don’t use a line most of the time. But whenever I do it makes me happy. With Finn and vigorous fetch my new concern is that I’ll garrote myself. What is your neighbor driving? A dirt bike?

      Reply
      1. Nancy

        Haha Nope, just his little work truck. Not the best neighbor I’ve had. And yes, I well remember that content feeling.

        Reply
  6. Morwenna

    Loved reading this, and the comments thread. Always thought how interesting it is that curtains become part of the family and so we are so sad to see them go…greetings to you all from England!

    Reply
    1. deemallon Post author

      Greetings back. Morwenna! Curtains. Cushions. Bed covers. I still remember my favorite curtains as a kid: blue willow. My mother painted my furniture white and my walls midnight blue. It was daring and pretty.

      Reply

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