My grandmothers (and their mothers before them) crocheted doilies. I must have inherited every single one of them, because two drawers are overflowing with this dainty stitchery. It was hard to appreciate the beauty of them, because they were wadded into the drawers. Most of them hadn’t been washed in half a century … and there was little trace of the starch that my grandmother had used to cause them to keep their shape. “Starch is what I need,” I decided.
Starch??? Oh, my Thunder. I don’t keep that stuff in my house! You see, I remember starched clothing (my memory is not that far gone). Did y’all ever have to suffer starched clothing?
My Mamaw starched everything. When she starched a shirt for you, my grandmother did a fine job. When she got done with it, that shirt was as stiff as a board. When you put it on, your arms stuck out straight from your sides. Walking in your starched shirt and your starched blue jeans, you looked like a zombie. You could scare people half to death by tottering along calling out “Brains! Brains!“ Anybody with a brain in their head would flee in fear, because they knew that the creases in your sleeves were sharp enough to slice those brains right out!
Mamaw even starched our underwear! Have you ever tried to sit in starched underdrawers? Nobody has to tell you to sit up straight … that’s for sure. You can’t do anything but. Mamaw always wondered why we threw our dirty clothes under the bed. Well, duh! Just about the time they got pliable enough to wear, she took them away to wash them again.
I laugh when I remember that Mamaw used to tell us that “Ladies sit with their thighs together.” Of course, these days when I sit that isn’t a problem (wild horses couldn’t pry these Thunder Thighs apart), but back then it was nearly impossible to get your thighs together with that starch so strong.
You can probably see why I don’t have starch at my house. I had no plans to pay good money for starch, since I have no desire to use it for anything but these doilies, but a quick search on Google told me that perhaps the cornstarch in my pantry would work to help these doilies keep their shape.
No, I don’t plan on having a house that drips with doilies. I want to use some of them as part of the centerpiece vignettes at our son’s wedding (my grandmother would roll over in her grave if she knew I was going to put cowboy boots smack dab in the middle of them). Since it’s too hot to work outside, I decided to set myself to the task of restoring these doilies to their former glory.
Perhaps you are one of those people who don’t appreciate lacy doilies? Stop for a minute and think about the work they represented. Women back in those days couldn’t go out and buy items to beautify their homes. They used their hours to create their own beauty (instead of mindlessly watching another episode of Desperate Housewives). Even if you don’t like doilies, you should have one around your house to remind you of the creativity and industry of our forebears. In fact, drape a doily over your television screen to remind you that there are other things you could be doing that might create lasting beauty!
I’m here to tell you that I experimented with the cornstarch and discovered that it works quite well. In fact, I learned that you can starch a doily enough to keep the shape without turning it into a lethal weapon! Just use a couple of tablespoons of starch in a big bowl of water and soak the doilies for a moment. Voila! If my grandmother had only known …
The next step is to find my iron, and remember how to use it, so I can spiff these doilies up properly. Where did I hide that iron?