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sashiko & towels

one of my big loves is old linen, or more precisely old linen meant for utalitarian purposes, like tea towels, kitchen towels, bath towels, table cloths, ...


my collection of these fabrics (either as tea towels or towels, or even more preferably still on the bolt as uncut yardage) is growing slowly and continuously over the last years, and i usually use these textiles as everyday towels; larger specimen after showering or when i go for a swim, smaller ones as face towels. many of the fabric originally meant to be tea towels also end up in my shower, as i find them too precious to actually use and destroy in the kitchen.


one of these classic textiles is the so-called "grubentuch" (the literal translation means something like mining towel), that is common in many parts of germany and austria and is mostly made from métis (half linen, half cotton) and still in production, most commonly used in kitchens. its original use was by miners who needed a densely woven fabric to wrap their lunches in and protect them from coal dust. the fabric is long-wearing, dense, and multi-purpose, i guess that's how it made it into the kitchens.


a few years ago i got hold of a bunch of kitchen towels with "grubentuch" weave, a checkered pattern, still unused, originating from a dowery. the woman they belonged to had never used them. they still had their original sizing intact. wonderful quality, but colour-wise on the slightly boring side, so i decided to sashiko stitch them. the nice thing about the weave is the checkered pattern, which makes it very easy to mark out patterns (which i don't really like). over time i stitched 3 of these towels; in the meantime i added a fourth in a different blue-white fabric that i found, probably dating back to the 1950ies.


grubentuch nr. 1:


stitched with light blue coron sashiko thread, indigo dyed by keiko futatsuya:




grubentuch nr. 2:


stitched with coron sashiko thread, kakishibu dye by keiko futatsuya.








grubentuch nr. 3:


stitched with coron sashiko thread, variegated indigo dye by keiko futatsuya.








grubentuch nr. 4:


stitched with coron sashiko thread, indigo dyed by keiko futatsuya.









all 4 are reversible, so no knots on either side. this technique works best with sashiko thread by coron (which you can find in my webshop). oh, and by the way - i use my sashiko towels as everyday towels, so they go into the washing machine just like my other towels.


i liked combining both fabric and technique whose origin is within people who were financially disadvantaged.


i will surely stitch a few more, as they make great projects to work on on the side, and they don't take too long either ... and i have still a few more sitting in my cupboard waiting for a little refresh.

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