Jane’s Tea Towel Story


I met Jane at work in 2001. We worked for the same organisation, for 14 years, until I retired. I remember the day her son was born, the day I discovered she was a Paul Young fan (and remember thinking ‘who is Paul Young?’), I remember admiring her skills in sewing and craft work and giving her my friend Jean’s sewing box which just appeared to be full of buttons. On my retirement, she gave me a hand-embroidered acrostic R (relax), E (entertain), T (travel), I (indulge), R (read), E (enjoy) which has always hung from a cupboard door in my kitchen. I still have the plant she gave me, as a ‘Thank You’, after I had to tell her work team about the death of their manager. It sits on my window sill beneath the picture of a Rainbow, (drawn by Lyra, and celebrating the NHS) and adjacent to the Teddy Bear, wishing Michael Rosen best wishes for his recovery (We’re Going on a Bear Hunt). After retirement, we have kept in touch via email and text (and I have found out, and appreciated, who Paul Young is). She reads some of my Tea Towel Blogs.

These two tea towels are a present from Jane but it the story behind those tea towels that is amazing, and makes it Jane’s Tea Towel Story: she calls it ‘Helping the Planet’.

“Hi Barbara. A little background information for the two tea towels I sent you. Before Lockdown, one of my favourite things was to spend time, on my one day off in the week, with my very good friend Amanda. Amanda is someone who enjoys browsing Charity Shops for a good bargain. Browsing Charity Shops is something, I confess, I had not done a lot, prior to becoming friends with Amanda. I had been into Charity Shops but only ever for a brief visit and generally to donate or to buy packs of Christmas cards. My Mum having been a hoarder, I think the idea of buying more things from a Charity Shop had never appealed. My brain tells me ‘don’t get in bad habits’. However, what my friend taught me was a visit to a Charity Shop can actually be very rewarding in other ways.

As a hobby, I make fabric gift bags, mainly with a Christmas theme, and sell them on eBay. I like to line the gift bags with fabric, as I feel it gives them more stability. However, I soon realised, as it was a lining, then really any fabric could be used, so I started to use scraps from my own stash. In the Charity Shop, whilst my friend enjoyed browsing the clothes rails, I realised there was usually a corner full of second-hand curtains, some of which were very good quality fabric, and hardly used. So a large amount of fabric for very little money.

This then led me, in Lockdown with the Charity Shops closed, to start to look on eBay for remnants of fabric. It was whilst browsing for some tartan fabric, for main fabric for my gift bags, that I came across the seller also selling some ‘Make Your Own Tea Towels’. Well, what a bargain to be had and there was a whole bundle to be won. I liked the idea of using my sewing skills to assist these tea towels to become usable and to take a place in the @myteatowels Collection. So slowly, but surely, the tea towels are being sewn and sent to Barbara.

Another nice thing of note is my friend gave me a whole set of Sylko threads, in a rainbow of colours, that belonged to her late Mum. So it is lovely to be picking from these the right co-ordinating colour to match the tea towel. It is also very nice to think that my friend’s Mum’s threads are continuing to be put to use and going towards helping our planet. I think this makes me realise that not only are we helping the planet by donating to a Charity Shop , we are also helping when we purchase items from it and upcycle rather than buy something new”

Thank you to Jane for both the tea towels and the back-story. I love the Panasonic Panacruch one. It’s bonkers. A trip to a Charity Shop has often resulted in me finding a snappy little tea towel but considering how many tea towels there are in the world, I am always surprised at how few end up in a Charity Shop. My theory is that families who are clearing out the homes of relatives know what it is good to go to a Charity Shop like clothes, china, books, DVDs, pictures…. but they think that tea towels are not suitable, especially if they are old or used. If you, Dear Reader, are thinking like this STOP because I’ll take them!!

PS: Jane gave me one of her Christmas Bags about two or three years ago. She said that if I wanted to, she would be happy for me to pass it on to someone else. I kept it, hanging from my wardrobe cupboard, with some bits of jewellery in it. It was going to have to be someone very special to pass that bag on to. In December 2020, my First Cousin Once Removed (I know this because I have The Cousin Explainer tea towel) had a baby on the same day as her Grandma (my aunt) died. Now I had found the right person to pass the Christmas bag on to, with the present for Haydn. In the bag is the story of the Christmas bag.

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