Saturday, November 27, 2010

Woman's Work: Laundry Basket

I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don't have any clean laundry, because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life? –Unknown

Of all the household chores, laundry is the one that I will never complain about. Or perhaps I should say it is the one I mind the least, because it is funny and dramatic to say, Mt. Saint Laundry is calling, or, I have to conquer Mt. Washmore today. But if the truth be told, the machines do all the work and we have it really easy. When I lived in Brasil, I did my own laundry by hand for about a year of that time, and washing jeans and towels {or really anything} in a stone sink basin and then wringing them out to dry is a very laborious process. I knew women who would start their day, every day, at the crack of dawn with their family's laundry, and not be finished until well into the afternoon. I count myself lucky that sorting a week's worth of laundry takes all of twenty minutes; that I can throw a load in the washer in less that five minutes {counting pre-treating all the stains} and come back 50 minutes later to find all the hard work done. With a few exceptions, all of that can go in the dryer and in 30 to 60 more minutes, I have a load of clean, bright, fresh smelling clothes which can be folded at my leisure while watching TV. Yes, laundry may take all day, but the bulk of the work is done by machines.

This laundry basket was really fun to appliqué. As I was selecting fabrics for it, I thought, this has to be the worst-sorted load of laundry in the history of laundry, because I sort my laundry not just into darks, mediums and lights, but by color. Then I realized that a monochromatic basket of laundry would have been very boring in this quilt, so I just had fun with it, imagining that this is what was left in the basket after several loads has been dumped in and picked through. I took inspiration from Lori's quilt, using red with big white polka-dots for one piece of laundry and choosing a really cool striped fabric for one of the socks. But for the most part, I picked fabrics that I thought looked nice to make up my basket of laundry. And the basket itself? Well, I searched high and low before I found this perfect basket-weave fabric and I absolutely love how it came out.

Over the years, I've honed my laundry skills and I think I do a fairly decent job. It is totally because I let the machines do all of the work. Here are a few tricks I've learned.
• Hot water sets in stains. I wash every load in cold water, which is good for several reasons; it is green {saves energy on heating the water}, it keeps clothes from fading, it keeps clothes from shrinking {if you don't put them in the dryer}, and if you missed anything in the pre-treat, it is more likely to come out in cold water.
• When treating clothes for stains, do it just before you throw the clothes in the wash as the water is running {rather than when you take the item off and put it in the laundry}. Also, most stains happen on the front of clothes, so if you're pressed for time, you can skip the backs of shirts.
• Let the machines do all the work — set every load to agitate for the maximum time setting on your machine.
• Don't overload your machine. Your clothes will come out better in two medium loads than one extra gigantic load. Also, use the right amount of soap for your load size. Too much detergent is just as bad as not enough.
• Contrary to popular belief, it is the washer, not the dryer, that eats stocks. Stick your head in the dryer and have a look around. There is no place for them to go. They slip down the drain in the drain/rinse cycle in the washer, so if the mis-matched sock pile drives you nuts, put your socks in mesh laundry bags in the wash.
• When drying sheets and blankets {or cuts of fabric for quilting} throw a set of dryer balls {or jumbo-size bouncy balls, which I like better} in with them. It helps keep the fabrics from wadding up into a giant ball and they will dry faster.

I hope that helps lighten your load :rofl: a little. I'm off to conquer Mt. Washmore :rolleyes:.


Barb said...

Love your laundry basket

Jennifer Lovell said...

funny--this looks exactly like a load of mine would look, including the white sock that I forgot to pull out and wash with the whites : ). This block is adorable.

Marg said...

We take an awful lot for granted don't we. I don't exactly love doing the washing, but I don't think i'll complain too much now when I think of all those people who have to do it by hand every day.
The laundry block is fabulous, I love the fabric you have chosen for the basket, it's absolutely perfect. The stripey sock is so cute and the fabrics all looks great together.

Shay said...

I love doing the washing. There's something soothing about making something dirty clean again with little effort on my part. I rarely use a dryer though which means sometimes washing is on the line for a while in winter...

Love the laundry backet block . Its just so cute . And the basket fabric was an inspired choice. Looking gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

I really don't enjoy laundry, but when I'm complaining about all my kids' clothes, I think of how many women around the world don't even have clothes for their kids.

LOVE the applique basket. I enjoy looking at Lori's patterns, but I know I would probably never finish one.

Michelle said...

Your laundry basket is adorable! :-)

You're right that we are blessed to have machines do most of the laundry work.

Paulette said...

I love the laundry basket applique. I dunno, except for the white sock, I'd probably wash everything in that basket together. Thanks for the laundry tip, especially the dryer balls. Mom used to use a clean tennis shoe, but are shoes ever really clean? ...or maybe she washed the shoes with the load. That was back when everyone wore canvas Keds.

pinksuedeshoe said...

I washed my jeans in the bathtub while I was in Russia. And I will never ever in my whole life complain about doing laundry ever. I was talking to my friend the other day, who has one 3 year old, and she was telling me how awful laundry was, that it takes forever, that clothes are all over her house for 2.5 days before it gets done, that it is more work than anything else she has to do. (Her exact words.) I was so shocked I didn't know how to respond.

Your basket is beyond fantastic. That basket weave fabric is amazing for this!