When I make mistakes with needlework or embroidery projects – you know, the kind of mistakes I should have known better and avoided? – I call them Misadventures.
They’re often the result of exploring or experimenting with some technique, some process that has to do with embroidery (because I live, eat, breathe and drink embroidery and it’s the only thing I ever do in my life. Oh wait. No, I do other things, and I have Misadventures in those pursuits, too).
As I explore and experiment, it’s not unusual for something to go amuck.
Maybe this doesn’t ever happen to you. Perhaps you are the one of those amazing people that I look at, with Eyes Wide in Wonder, thinking, She always gets it right. When I grow up, I want to be like her!
But in the meantime, I keep Misadventuring away!
Here is my first laundering misadventure with the piña cloth embroidery pieces that I recently acquired.
When I set out, I even had instructions, so what could possibly go wrong?
Diane, who has a shop on Etsy called The Windmiller (presently closed while she’s traveling), sold some piña cloth embroidery on Etsy a while ago, and I came across her store while looking for information on the cloth.
Even though her store was closed, I was able to contact her, and we chatted about piña cloth. She sent some photos, including the above information on washing piña cloth embroidery.
The first thing I did was consider the soap I wanted to use. I decided on Pure Soap Flakes from the aptly-named Pure Soap Flake Company.
I like their soap. It feels good.
But, just so you know, I’m not super-picky about soap. When I have to wash or soak an old embroidered linen, I always start with the most mild approach, but I’ll keep going up on the scale of harshness when it comes to cleaners, if I can’t get the piece to the level of clean that I think I can get it to with a milder approach.
This soap is a nice, mild approach. It’s pure soap, no weird or harsh stuff in it. I suppose one step milder would have been just a good soak in water, or a good soak in water and Orvus. But – this is where I started.
It’s also where I stopped.
And not because I got stellar results – not yet, anyway.
I started by placing about a teaspoon of soap flakes in a bowl and putting the kettle on to boil. My plan was to dissolve the soap flakes in a little boiling water, then add enough cool water to fill the soaking bowl, and then to place the piña cloth into the water, flat, and let it soak.
But as I stood there, looking at the soap flakes in the bowl, I thought a teaspoon really didn’t look like much.
And then I noticed that those little soap flakes look a lot like white chocolate shavings! And a teaspoon of white chocolate shavings is really a negligible amount!
And so I added a little more.
A half a cup looked much better!
(I didn’t taste them, in case you’re wondering.)
While I was playing with the soap flakes and waiting forever for the kettle, my eyes lighted upon the other product made by the Pure Soap Flake Company, their Pure Laundry Powder.
And I thought, Well, why not? And I sprinkled a little bit – a couple tablespoons – in with the soap flakes.
Then, the kettle boiled. And I added hot water. And I got pretty much all the soap melted, but some of it didn’t seem to want to melt in that little bit of hot water. In fact, the water seemed a bit on the over-soapy, a-little-slimy side. So I added a little more hot water, and kept stirring.
Eventually, it all pretty much dissolved, so I added some cool water so that there was about a quart of water altogether, swished the water up a bit, and then I carefully laid my piña cloth in and left it to soak.
And then I proceeded to forget about it.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, soaking old linens stained with age can take a long, long time before any decent results can be seen.
It was a day later when I remembered to check on this piece.
Now, don’t worry. The piece is intact. It’s fine. But it didn’t really clean up at all!
Because, you see, it never really soaked. The water / soap concoction – or should I say, the soap with a little water in it? – set up upon cooling.
When I came back to the cloth, it was encased in a jello mold of murky-colored soap.
At first I thought the pineapple fibers had gone to jelly!
When I touched the surface of the “water,” it resisted – just like jello would. I saw, below the murky surface, my piña perfectly encased.
So I started scooping at the water, and the jello-like consistency relaxed into a liquidy gel.
In the photo above, I’m scooping up very thick gel, which pulled right out of my hand like a heavy, drippy goo. It was wonderful!
I pulled the piña cloth out, and though coated in goo, it was in good shape. I rinsed it. And rinsed it. And rinsed it. And rinsed it some more.
The “soaking” hadn’t really done anything to it. I suspect that, in the jellied state of the soap and water, not much soaking went on.
The moral of the story: Soap flakes are not white chocolate. More is not better.
The piña cloth is soaking in a different solution now.
Some More Piña Cloth Embroidery
Here are some photos of the embroidered piña cloth tablecloth that Diane (who sent me the cleaning instructions) sold on Etsy. She graciously allowed me to share them with you.
I love the motifs on this piece! Whoever bought it found a real treasure – it’s gorgeous!
Here’s the repeated motif a little closer…
…and yet a little closer. That drawn thread area in the center must be so very fine and tiny.
Well, my friends, I will let you know how my soaking works out.
In the meantime, tomorrow, we’re having a give-away. See you then!
And of course, I’m always open to ideas, suggestions, questions, and commentary, if you want to chime in below!