I grew up in a household full of doilies – all embroidered and edged with crochet by my mother for her “glory box” or trousseau. These doilies and placemats brightened up what was a fairly colourless household interior – the 1950’s was all about being practical. Furnishings were bought to last and to not show wear and tear (and that included dirt).
As a child I loved to play with these decorative mats - I loved the bright colours, the raised surfaces of the embroidery and the “nobbly” bits around the edges. I used to prance around the house with one or two draped over the top of my head and shoulders pretending I was a gypsy. They became bed covers for doll's beds and were used for my own tea parties. The job of changing the doilies was mine – a job I took great pride in. I could never quite understand why only a few were to be strategically displayed – as far as I was concerned, “the more the better”.
As was common with my mother’s generation (she was born in 1918), a well stocked glory box was a necessity for any young woman contemplating marriage. With her embroidery, flowers were her speciality and she used all the colours of the rainbow. Her doilies were all shapes and sizes – most of them oval and round but a few rectangular ones as well.
Hand embroidered supper cloths with matching serviettes were brought out when we had guests for afternoon tea and
after they had been put through the wash I was allowed to iron the serviettes – on the back of course. Oh, the smell of freshly laundered and ironed linen.
I am lucky to have the few remaining doilies – mostly the ones that were oddly shaped or too small to be used often.
Do I use them? I haven’t up till now, but since I have unearthed them I’m sure I can find a place for them. I still find them beautiful.