28 May 2013

A Bit of Napkin History!

The napkin history I was originally thinking of included my own personal pieces of handwoven cloth. From the log cabin dishtowel that brought a red ribbon home, the twill in golds that has covered many a pie, the fun purple ones with spots of Atwater-Bronson Lace that are often folded, and protecting my favorite coffee cup from the tile, to the large, blue and red striped ones that have gone on many impromptu picnics, they have all been part of special times.

So I thought I'd check out a little bit of napkin history. And this is why I must weave napkins, they are fascinating. Did you know that the first napkins in use by the Spartans were lumps of dough, rolled and kneaded at the table? Each time I've covered a homemade pie crust with one of my pieces of cloth, I have, in essence, laid a napkin from one time, on a napkin of another time! This is something that truly amuses me.

Dough napkins were eventually replaced by pieces of bread for wiping hands on -- this only makes sense of course. Then onto napkins of table size, where you wiped your hands and mouth with the hanging edges, and into the late Middle Ages when the communal napkin came to be no larger than our modern bath towel! That's a lot of weaving.

And it doesn't stop there, by the 1700's there were napkin protocols! Some pretty funny ones, too.
A bit of napkin history.

So now, whenever I wonder which handwoven things make me personally the happiest, it has to be the napkin, a purposeful piece of cloth with a long and fascinating history. And I like to weave them.
Plying the weft for the last of the Picnic Napkins.

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