Sunday, June 5, 2011


As I've been working on my decluttering project, I've had to make a lot of decisions about what I really need to keep. The William Morris quote, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful," crosses my mind quite a bit when I'm digging into yet another drawer or box.

So what do I do when I come across a stack of hankies, packed away in a blanket chest?

These hankies belonged to my Grams. When she died, they were one of the things I asked to have, because I used to love to open her top dresser drawer and look through them, choosing my favorites and arranging them this way and that. If I was staying the night, I would pick a hankie from the drawer and use it to cover a small, china dog she kept on her bedside table. The dog had to be tucked in very carefully before I could go to sleep.
My mom remembers being told to always have a clean hankie when she went out, "in case anything happens." I'm not sure what scenarios Grams had in mind, but her hankies obviously came in handy for the usual purposes, including dabbing at her eyes, as this mascara-stained example shows. I wonder if they were happy tears or sad?

Some of my favorites have lipstick stains in familiar Grams colors. She always liked lipsticks and nail polishes in sort of dark coral, terra cotta colors. My mom tells me that any of the hankies trimmed in tatting or crochet would have been the work of the nuns in the family. She says you would never see them without some sort of handwork. They were always working on something and would give these as gifts whenever they visited.
Considering I can't get the hang of crocheting at all, I'm really impressed by these. I wish they were still around to teach me how to do this.

Some hankies for the Christmas season. I like to imagine that they were little gifts from someone. I can just see my Grams with a Christmas brooch on her coat and a poinsettia hankie tucked in her purse.

This must have been one of her favorites, because it shows a lot of wear. It kind of reminds me of the way her house was decorated, with lots of flowers and pretty colors.

The next few are some of my favorites. This one just stands out as being so different from all the rest--the colors, the design.

And this one is so cheerful! The print combined with the crochet edge is just too cute.

This isn't the fanciest hankie, but I like that it's simple and bright.
And this one is just absolutely darling, with the all-over print and the bows. Oh, the bows!

Finally, my very favorite.
This is the one I chose most often when I tucked the china dog in for the night.

Finding this cache in the blanket chest and looking through the hankies brought back memories of my Grams, but I was still questioning whether or not I should keep them. Are they beautiful? Well, some of them are, and others aren't really my taste. Besides that, they were just stuffed in the glove box of a blanket chest. What use were they serving?

Ah, that's it! What if they were useful? Once upon a time, when they were being used the way in which they were intended, they were useful. Why not put them back to work? Now I don't think I'd give up my Puffs Plus with Lotion when I have a cold, but for regular, everyday use they're soft and pretty and a little reminder of my Grams!

You didn't really think I'd get rid of them, did you? :)


Belinda said...

They are so beautiful, Susan! I love the last one best of all. :)

Linwood & Margaret said...

My mother had many of the same 'hankies'. I love each of them for the memories they give me.

Paula Jo @ Home and Garden Decor said...

You scared me for a second, when you said you might throw them away. lol If you ever decide you don't want them, I'll take them. They are beautiful. They are beautiful. I have some from my husbands family in Germany, and I use them in my entertainment center,and on the mantel. I let them overhang a little so the pattern shows and put something on them like a vase, candleholder, etc. They look just lovely, and a part of family is with us even if they have passed on. We just have the memories.

Denise said...

You could use them by stitching them together to make a valance or table runner too. I would just tack them together then that way you can always take it apart if you need to. I love the violet one too! :)

Myra said...

You could also frame each one ( or a few) individually for wall art as a grouping.

Allison said...

My MIL spent a good deal of my husband's inheritance (sigh) on hankies a few years ago. She finally chose a bunch that complemented each other, and made a sort of collage from them and framed it. Much better than sitting in a box!

Care said...

Each one is beautiful and special and unique! And what beautiful memories to go with them!

Anonymous said...

What a marvellous collection! So full of joy and meaning. :) I would frame some - seeing them on the wall would definitely make me smile.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you are keeping them!


seeRsew said...

You psyched me out there too, for a minute. I'm so glad you are going to keep them and use them! Even if you kept them for others to inherit, untouched, the hankies wouldn't have the same meaning they do to you.

This is why I use my wedding china all the time. What are you saving it for?

Sherry from Alabama said...

There is no way I could give up those beautiful little pieces of fabric! Of course, I'm a hanky lover and user. Fabric is so much more comfy to my sniffly nose than paper. It's one little way I like to pamper myself.

Sherry @ A Happy Valentine

llangevoort said...

I loved this commentary Susan on the handkerchiefs. Some things are becoming "lost arts". I love stitchery, have done some cross-stitch, embroidery, etc. I have a set of pillow cases with the crocheted edge added onto them. I actually use the cases because I think they are too pretty to sit in the drawer. I will always have appreciated for these kinds of traditions.

Sue said...

Whew, I was hoping not! The are very beautiful, indeed. Glad you kept them!