More than ten years ago, when I was still living in Nebraska, my grandmother sent me a box of glass ware; some of the glasses were wrapped in hand-embroidered towels. A few of the towels were just your standard-issue floursack towels, embroidered with cats and other charming designs. Two of the items were much fancier; creamy linen napkins with a wheat-colored floral design. They were simple and lovely and I set them aside, thinking I would use them in a bread basket for holidays and other special occasions.
When I asked my grandmother about them, she couldn't remember if she had embroidered them or if they had been made by her mother, my great-grandmother. But she thought I would like them and so she sent them to me.
I loved them and I used them for special occasions for a few years. But I also worried that some day I'd stain or otherwise harm them. So, in the spring of 2002 I had the napkins laundered and then took them to a frame shop to have them matted and framed.
That summer, I gave one to my sister and then hung the other in my first home in New Jersey. KO's hangs in her dining room today while mine hangs in my living room. The walls in that room are painted a similar shade to the embroider on the linen; the color was chosen for that purpose. I see my cloth every day when I sit in my dining room; I often sit in the chair underneath it and read. It's a reminder of my grandmother and for that reason alone it makes me smile. But it's equally nice for me to think of the identical sister cloth, watching over my sister and her family 2000 miles away.
A note on the photos: I've got a new camera and I am experimenting with it (and use of the flash). The photo above was taken with the flash; the close-up photo of the framed napkin was without the flash; the colors in the close-up picture are a much truer reflection of reality in the room, so despite the glare, I posted it. The learning curve for me and photos is pretty steep. Please bear with me.