So Lovely and Yet . . .

A beautiful damask bath towel, probably part of a hope chest.


A gorgeous goose eye twill weave.


Elegant hem stitching, done by hand.


Satin stitch monogram; again, done by hand.


But an unfortunate monogram.


Was the young woman dismayed at the image her initials brought to mind?

Or did it make her laugh, because she knew she was no such thing?



42 thoughts on “So Lovely and Yet . . .

  1. I’ve said this before, I think: you need to write their stories, however you imagine them. It may have been for her, for her husband-to-be, a special gift for her new mother-in-law… It is yours to decide and to tell.

  2. It’s a beautiful piece of fine work. I love that perfect hem.

    One thing I learned which may have softened the blow for this young woman is that the middle letter of a monogram is often the last name. If true, her initials would be H G A.

    I think your version is funnier, though. My husband’s initials are MF. You can’t win them all.

    • That’s a good point about the G being in the middle–I still might’ve opted not to have all three initials done in this format, though! MF as initials must’ve been interesting when he was in junior high . . . or maybe junior high was more innocent then . . .

  3. Just a thought, maybe the owner of that towel spoke a language other than English. She may have been a migrant from Sweden. The style of the lettering is very similar to some of the Swedish monogrammed linens I have.

    • I like this explanation a lot! And then the word “hag” would be nothing to her. I agree that the lettering style is unusual in the context of what I’ve seen of American linens–I think you’re on to something!

  4. The quality and the hand work is exquisite Kerri – I especially love the hemming. Maybe the ‘G’ is her married initial – what we do for love!

    Here’s my contribution to the unfortunate names story list: My daughter is named Joanna her friends call her Jo. She used to work with another Joanna, also called Jo. I rang her work and asked to speak to Jo. ‘Which one?’ asked her work mate. “Jo King’ I replied. The workmate giggled and I felt momentarily horrified!!

  5. Isn’t that “g” kind of weird? The “H” and “A” look like upper case letters but not the ” g ” ..for what it’s worth.

    • That’s definitely true–not consistent at all. Another reader, mosaicthinking, said the style looked Swedish to her, although she didn’t specifically mention the “G”. But I wonder if it isn’t from another country.

  6. It would always be nice to know, wouldn’t it? You can start with facts and what you know and a bit of history, but it’s always so tempting to speculate. Things do have histories and stories. Unfortunately, they can’t always tell us!

    • No, they can’t tell us and I both like that and get frustrated by it. I don’t need to know everything about a piece but I do get curious about some more than others!

    • I love the weave, too, and I’m amazed to think I could, at this stage of my weaving career, re-create it! The threads used are finer than I’ve ever used but the pattern is within my ability!

      • That is such a thrilling thing to realise. I was talking about something similar the other day with my mother. Most of us see a beautifully crafted object and admire it as a finished product. An expert can see the same object and can visualise the making process – each stage can be followed just by looking at the finished item.

  7. I’m glad that I’m a late comer to read this post,for the comments have been as interesting as the post. I must admit that I was so busy trying to imagine what it must of been like to dry off with this type of towl other than than a soft terry one ,when I came to the part “or did she laugh” I had back up a bit ,then I laughed . Youngsters at school used to tease me about my name being deBRA..😳😂

    • Oh, yes, of course they teased about deBRA–kids are such dingbats! I think it’s interesting, too, that these damask towels were used as bath towels–terrycloth hasn’t been around all that long, I guess. The damask ones are certainly prettier!

  8. Its a beautiful towel! The letter forms are so odd, makes you wonder what the backstory is…now that makes it all the more special!

    • I don’t know if you saw it but one of the other commenters thought the odd lettering might be a Swedish style. It does make it more interesting and special!

  9. Wow……that is something. My uncle’s initials were JEW….. A friend’s were EAR. That’s when you want to put your last name initial in the middle!

    • Yes, indeed! You’d think parents would give some thought to the names they choose. My uncle specifically chose his daughter’s middle name so her initials would be WOW–that’s more like it!

  10. Thanks for seeing and sharing the beauty in these objects. I like monograms on items, though I have yet to find something that has my own initials, or one as funny as this one!

    • I see tons of monogrammed linens and have never found one with my three initials in the right order. From the point of view of selling vintage linens, I much prefer to offer items with a single initial–too hard to find a match when all three letters are used!

  11. This is so funny, Kerry, as when I was pregnant with my youngest, our first choice for names was Helen (to honor Great-aunt Helen 🙂 ) Ann (a family middle name) and the last name is Gunderson. But when we figured out the initial side, we stepped back. So she is Anna Helen 🙂 But apparently someone somewhere did not step back and that is ok too. No one bothers with the middle name anyway. Where did you find this towel?

    • Good for you, for thinking it through! I got the towel in a mixed lot I bought on eBay. Since I sell vintage linens I keep an eye on the auctions where someone is selling, like, 10 pounds of stuff for a few dollars. The HAG towel came in one of those bunches. I’m not sure what to do with it–doubt it would ever sell. Would you want it???? I’d be happy to give to AHG!

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