Sunday, June 08, 2008

Wash 'n go

Lovely day. Lovely evening; flat red ribbons of cloud strung out on the western horizon and the crescent of a waxing moon slung up there too. 10.00pm now and still light. Bats flying.

It's been something of a day for tying up loose ends in home and garden. Things crossed off 'to do' lists - that sort of thing. Last of the Winter Squash planted - tick. Geraniums and Petunias bedded out - tick. Tomatoes watered - tick. YFC Anniversary Dinner tickets distributed - tick. Washed jumpers....by hand.

What's this? Hand washing? Well yes - those 2 soft cashmere sweaters which have sat scrunched up, inducing pangs of guilt each time I pushed them aside to use the utility room sink finally met soapy water. Perhaps the correct alignment of planets has made this Sweater Washing Day.

Up to the elbows in something mild and sudsy the inner housewife has time to ponder. Mostly I think, and particularly when it comes to rinsing, about the way washing used to be done. 1 tub of water and a lot of elbow grease. Even early washing machines seem to follow this principle. I also have memories of 'treading' a load of washing in the bath. I consider my one-time landlady's 'modern' 1960s machine, an amalgam of paddles, pumps and hoses. It did a lot of noisy churning (which resulted in laundry forming a tightly bound knot) but still relied on the user to fill, empty and refill it. There was a mangle too which swung out over the sink and greedily ate up everything in its path. Sheets and shirts et al were grabbed from the tub with tongs, disentangled and fed through the tight rubber rollers to emerge flattened and waterless at the other side. I can only imagine that the description 'labour saving' is comparative and that it was far superior to the 'dolly tub' and 'posser'.

Anyway it was dainty stuff first followed by other items in order of dirtiness - filthiest last. I have a sneaking suspicion that some things never really got clean, sloshed around as they were in ever dirtier water.......a bit like washing up before dishwashers came on the scene.

And isn't rinsing grim? That water never seems to come clear. Eventually the inner slut beats the inner housewife and says 'blow this for a game of soldiers' and decides after 3 bowls of water that Enough is Enough. And where is that mangle when a girl needs it? We settle for a gentle squeeze before lying the clean wet sweaters out on a rack to dry. Phew. Job done.

Hopefully that's the year's quota of hand washing done. We've a policy of Machine Wash Items Only up here in the small mountain Kingdom of Trelystan which is successfully enforced by administration of the Scary Look or Glare should anyone attempt to smuggle in stuff needing anything more complicated than a 30 degree cycle. But isn't forbidden fruit always the most appealing? Thus is it that cashmere finds its way into the National Wardrobe and as I'm never likely to be rich enough to do the super star thing of throwing it away when grubby I'll just have to keep on washing.

Next week: A line of washing - no finer sight.

15 comments:

Inthemud said...

I've not done any hand washing for ages, my machine has a hand wash section and it seems to be fine , haven't damaged anything yet........!

kissa said...

How coincidental I hand washed a cardigan yesterday the label says 57% wool, 30% polyamide??, 15% rabbit hair so I thought treat i gently. It dried in the sun and now feels oh so soft.

ChrisH said...

Oh, that photo brought back memories of Ma's early machine! Now I'm not going to moan to myself so much about hanging out the washing when the machine's done all the work first. I'm supposed to be doing chores today too so I'd better get on!

Frances said...

I am a fan of hand washing, perhaps because otherwise I rely on the communal laundry room in the basement of this apartment building. The machines there are usually okay for linens, but I would prefer not to sacrifice any cashmere or other fine items to their spin and agitation forces!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I hardly do any handwashing. I always feel they aren't as clean as they would be in the washing machine and so I bundle everything in. I shrunk a lovely aran cardy last year for my laziness. It's not in Amy's wardrobe.

CJ xx

lampworkbeader said...

Bother, you've made me feel guilty about my red Christmas woolly languishing in the bottom of my washing basket....

Cait O'Connor said...

I don't handwash I just use a delicate cycle on the machine. But I have no cashmere.

Can't wait for the line of washing, my passion.

Nikki-ann said...

We always buy things and then look at the label, then its... Ooops!

Milla said...

however nice you make it sound the pain in the inner under stretch of fore arm is there even in contemplation. Plus the minute my hands are all sudsy (hardly an occasion of great frequency) then my legs itch, and my face itches and I can scratch none of it. Oh to have staff.

Cowgirl said...

Gosh Mountainear, you've been busy! Loved the shot of the mangle washer - they were a common thing here when I was little - but not as mod looking as your pic - ours were round and went in the outdoor washhouse - a hose running into a big concrete wash tubs. Laundry during winter was not pleasant! A trip down memory lane!

Faith said...

Oh lovely post! I hate hand washing and avoid it like the plague. You wouldn't believe it but my husband washes his cap that he wears on his steam engine, occasionally, in soap suds, he loves it so much! had a friend whose kids grew out of some of their clothes before she got round to washing them - and they weren't cashmere! I do love a line of white washing on a sunny day !

Ragged Roses said...

I must admit any hand washing here always gets relegated to the bottom of the pile. Our home use to be a laundry about a century ago and I think my daughters are keeping up the tradition of supplying me with endless supplies of washing!
Kimx

Rachel said...

What a hoot, thank you: I could have written that post! That was my mother's first-ever washing machine. It gave her much scope for melodrama about keeping fingers away from the mangle, and it regularly fused all the lights in the house. My sister and I would be co-opted, skirts tucked into knickers, to tread wool blankets in the bath, and the hand washing of wool garments had more rules than even our convent school could invent. The good old days? Maybe not.

Zoë said...

I always use the washing machine too, so far no casulaties with cashmere.

Thank you for the information about the sculpture, I think you are bang on, I had a look at the website and they are pretty much identical to the ones I saw. There were two other pieces cast in bronze too, one a spiral and the other a abstract bird hidden in the woods. Loved both those too.

Did you email me? I am still none the wiser about the hares!

zoelynch at unknowndomain dot co dot uk.

Best Wishes,

Zoë

Angel said...

You are good-I don't hand wash or dry clean anything.

I remember very clearly my Nans early machine and mangle. She had them right up until only maybe 20 years ago. Then she got a hoover twin tub-she can't stand these fancy fangled automatic machines! She STILL has the twin tub. It sits forlornly under a unit in her kitchen. She hasn't been able to do her own washing for nearly 10 years...

xx