December 17, 2010
Wetter As It Dries
Tea towels get their name because, back in the day, they were delicate linen cloths that the lady of the house would use only to dry her fine bone china tea service.Crikey! provides a little historical background to the Palace's decision that no folk-art will besmirch the nuptials of William and Kate.
In The Kitchen Linens Book, Ellyn-Anne Geisel writes that linen is the best fabric for tea towels (or "dish towels", as Americans call them), because it can absorb 20% of its weight in water and doesn’t leave lint on dishes.
Historically, women made their own tea towels - often embroidering them, or buying cheerful iron-on transfers, the first of which were marketed as early as 1879. Now tea towels are more commonly made from cotton, or a blend of cotton, linen and viscose - a man-made fibre manufactured from wood pulp, which speeds water evaporation.