I woke slowly this morning half-dreaming about the sensuality of linen, with images and flashes of feeling moving through my mind.
Do you remember the old children's book called Heidi? She is sent, newly orphaned, up the mountain to her terrifying grandfather. He is unprepared for a child in his rough shelter in the summer pastures, but he makes a little bed for her in the loft with fresh sweet-smelling hay, and fills a coarse linen bag for a warm cover, and she falls asleep that night looking at a star through a chink in the roof.
Something of that feeling stays with me when I think of linen. Its sensuality is clean, not opulent, wholesome, a higher kind of luxury: stone walls, and wolfhounds and clear, cold rivers, not satin and lapdogs and Turkish Delight. The scent of the fresh hay, not patchouli. A feeling of safety, of order and preparedness, and simple necessities raised to a higher plane by being utterly fit for their purpose.
When I first started sewing Rough Linen I would dream about it, vivid images of stone walls and high thin windows, with a rumpled linen bed glowing in the shadows, or a bright white-painted cottage room where linen fuses in my mind with the high calls of sea birds. We did stay in a harbour cottage in Mousehole in Cornwall when I was young, and that quality of bright, clear light, sloping old floors and clean sea air is with me to this day, as an ideal of glorious, simple pleasures.
I don't think of myself as a romantic.
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