My Dishtowel Jones: The Danish Modern Beauty

Jones screenshot

It’s no secret I’m addicted to dishtowels. I love ‘em, old and new.

I like to use them.

I like to weave them.

I like to sell them.

I even run contests to honor and glorify them.

I have a new favorite dishtowel—quite possibly the best ever!

It’s damask linen, very high quality. It’s crisp and almost crunchy, the way good linen is when new. And it has that sheen, that shine, that polish that only linen gives us. It’s unused fabric—never washed or put to use, with the original sizing. The woven design looks different on the two sides. One side shows the pattern as light against a darker background and the other side reverses the shades.

The style of the towel is Danish modern and that makes it unusual in itself. While I could show you lots of table linens and towels that evoke styles such as Art Nouveau or Deco, and even more that are mid-century modern and cottage, it’s unusual to find linens that really complement the cool, clear lines and pale colors I associate with the Danish Modern aesthetic.

dan mod towel-dk on lt-5

This towel also makes one thing clear—it’s a bar towel! The woven design is of wine glasses and champagne coupes and brandy snifters and decanters of adult beverages. There they are, all lined up on the “shelves,” waiting for the party to begin.

I have four of these towels. The fabric was sold as yard goods and the original tag was still affixed to the linen—“Dalsjofors hellinne” from Sweden.

gothic petuniaI bought a piece that could be cut up into four towels—the design is laid out in a way that made it easy to see where to cut. I double turned the hems and stitched them on my beloved Singer Featherweight.

And now I admire these towels. I gaze at them in wonder and touch them with affection.

I know I don’t need four of them and I should sell some of them on Etsy, to spread the beauty around a little. The closest I’ve gotten is listing one of them at a pretty high price.

It irritates me a little that the listing has gotten almost no attention! Towels that are FAR inferior (in my opinion!) are getting love but my Danish Modern beauty is so understated and elegant, it goes unnoticed. Do you think that’s why so few of us opt for understated elegance as a look?

But beneath my irritation, I have to admit I feel a little relieved. Like all addicts, I covet all of what I need. I want to keep it close, to revel in it, and I certainly do not want to share it!

They say addiction is wrong but if this feeling is wrong, I don’t want to be right!

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47 thoughts on “My Dishtowel Jones: The Danish Modern Beauty

  1. The Danish modern “revival” sort of corresponds with the excitement in the quilty world surrounding the “modern”/mod quilt designs/groups that are gaining in wider acceptance. In a day when “more(stuff) is more”, it seems this mod theme is a credible reaction to our over packed lives/homes!!!! Great post…love those textiles!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thanks, Doreen, for coming by and commenting! It’s really interesting to watch trends in home decor/textiles/quilting. I like the Scandinavian influence a lot.

      • I never did, growing up (lots of my folk’s friends had that style….ours was more “traditional”). But now pieces are mixed with others to be more eclectic!!! Love!!!!!

    • I started selling on Etsy because I had, and I’m not kidding, hundreds of old linens, including a LOT of towels of all types. I’ve kept a lot of favorites but found good homes for many others. I like that people are using them!

  2. This midcentury girl is totally in love with the towels..but yes a bit of a steep price. I know, prices go up and rightfully so. What I bought a few years ago for a few dollars,is now beyond my reach. The Danish dining room set I bought at a garage sale for $40.-, was sold for $4000.- at a Midcentury Modern show here in Cincinnati…..Someone will snap up that towel and will be very happy!! Imagine it at the 1950 teak cocktail bar…ohlalala! A good find, Kerry! have a lovely weekend! xo Johanna

    • You were smart to start buying Danish Modern before everyone else caught on! I wish we had the teak chairs that my parents had in the house when I was a kid–they were so stylish!

  3. Those towels would fit right in a high-class cocktail party, they are definitely worth a high price, if you can let them go, I love the color too.

  4. I’ve only just twigged that ‘dishtowels’ are not ‘dishcloths’, dirty-washing-up-water-for-the-use-of, but ‘tea towels’. Two peoples divided by a common language, non?

    • I always think of tea towels as being “fingertip towels”–smaller, and often with fussy embroidery, quite girl-y. Dishtowels, in my little world, are larger, sturdier, and more practical. But, you’re so right–our common language is a source of endless confusion!

  5. Jones is a new one on me, too!

    I sell antique julep strainers and bar spoons to professional bartenders. They seem to be very particular and have excellent taste. One of them will buy this marvelous towel sooner or later. What a gorgeous addition to a home bar!

    • My towel would look great with some of your gorgeous barware! But, and I’m sure you can relate to this, I don’t really care if this sells at all. If no on else appreciates it as much as I do, I’ll be happy to keep it!

      • Its funny…A couple of days ago a bartender in Boston invited me up there to do a trunk show of my barware at some bartender event later this year. I politely responded that I didn’t do shows. Although I know bartenders appreciate my antique barware, I am in no hurry to part with it. They’ll just have to find it on Etsy.

      • How fascinating, that there’s even such an event going on! I wonder if there’s any other place in the world, other than vintage, where sellers are so loath to sell!

  6. I admit to being more intrigued with the word ‘jones’ as a verb rather than a proper noun …. [even WordPress doesn’t like it uncapitalised!] I discovered it could be used while playing ‘Words with Friends’ with my daughter recently. She was beating me and my letters weren’t helping my case and i tried various combinations of letters that normally I wouldn’t consider – and it accepted ‘jones’. I happily played it thinking ‘those Americans really misuse the English language – mutter, mutter, mutter!’ 🙂 And now here one of my favourite Americans delivers me not only the word but the usage of it. How did it come into being though i wonder……..

    The towels are definitely classy! I find them a little scary in their pristine classiness and wonder if I would ever dare to attempt to wipe off any water with them…… As addictions go – this is not a bad one!

  7. I know nothing about weaving, but the things you create are stunning. Simple and beautiful. I really like the colors as well. I thought weaving took a really LONG time to finish things, but you really seem to accomplish a lot! Congratulations!

    • I hope it’s clear I didn’t weave the fabric in this post–that would be WAY beyond my ability! But one of the things I’ve found very appealing about weaving is that it does not take a long time to finish things. I was used to making quilts, which took me months or years to finish, because I wanted to do it all by hand. With weaving, I can finish a couple scarves or four towels in maybe, two weeks, even if I don’t work on the weaving for more than two to three hours a day.

  8. These towels are so beautiful Kerry – I love the soft muted colours just so pretty. Far too good to use as a dish towel though (am assuming for drying up the clean dishes) . These would be decorator pieces in my house!

  9. I feel like you need a unique buyer for these towels… I for one, don’t like them! Sorry! They look 1950’s to me and perhaps because I grew up then, I generally don’t like items from that era. Mid Century Modern… Just sayin’! They are beautifully crafted for sure…

    • Lucky you–I hope you use the towels! That’s my downfall–I have hard time actually using some of them, especially the ones I’m weaving by hand. I’ll get over that eventually!

  10. You’ve made me laugh!
    First, I haven’t heard the words Jones in awhile, and I always loved it when someone said “jonesing”.
    Anyway, I do love your addiction to these tea towels. They are quite lovely.
    Remind … where do you keep all these objects of your addiction? Folded in drawers?

    • I have three vintage glass towel rods hanging in the kitchen and some of the towels hang there–I change them seasonally, if I remember to. A lot of what I have are for sale on Etsy and I have a storage spot for those in my laundry room–nothing worse than selling something and then not being able to find it!

  11. The towel definitely harks back to the 50’s and 60’s, Dean Martin, James Darren, ol’ Blue Eyes and company. Given the design and fiber, the fabric must have been meant for towels. Nice job, Kerry. And I think you would be able to weave these; you would need to do some pick-up for the figures but the background look like plain weave. Manufacturers use industrial looms to create figures but we can imitate them with a little hand-manipulation.

    • YES! These would’ve been perfect for the “Rat Pack”! I think I have a LONG way to go to be able to weave anything like this but I love that learning to weave has given me a greater appreciation for textiles!

  12. Buying gifts is easier since I’ve come to realize that people want more of what I might think they already have enough of / too much of. Now I’ll think of it as their jones.
    I’m drawn to a more folksy, less formal type of towel.

  13. Pingback: You Could Win! | Love Those "Hands at Home"

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