Why You Need a New Kitchen Towel

July 19, 2010

The next time you replace your kitchen towel, you really should consider a stripe.   You will be honoring a centuries’ old tradition of using striped textiles in your home.  And they’re just plain pretty!

The seaside town of St. Jean de Luz, on the Spanish border, has dozens of small streets, many lined with linen shops.   Stripes are  everywhere!  On tablecloths, dishes, trays, baskets, even sheets.   And each one is more beautiful than the next.

The tradition of these textiles began in the Middle Ages when Basque farmers wove large striped cloths to protect their cattle  from flies and the sun.   These colorful linens have become an inherent part of regional history, and as far back as 1010 AD, local abbeys recorded these textiles as part of their assets.

Originally, the width and color of the stripe gave information about the wealth and social standing of the owner.  But today, people like Jean-Vier have “kicked it up a notch”.    They produce  modern patterns with seven stripes, which represent each of the seven Basque regions (four in Spain and three in France).

These contemporary designers have turned the humble stripe into a work of art. (As you can see, I am rather fond of the pattern called marmalade.)    And although I am in no way affiliated with them, they now have boutiques in the US, so you can order online.  So go ahead, follow tradition and add some stripes to your kitchen!

Unfortunately for me, it doesn’t end with kitchen towels.  I’m so hooked, I’m now recovering the furniture in stripes.

Good grief, what’s next?

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!