Tuesday, August 16, 2011

3337 Ironing

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Science is neither a method nor a body of knowledge.
It is a body of changing, learned opinion, aspiring to be true.
There are certain facts about nature and history; our grasp of those facts
is constantly changing.
-- George Santayana --


If something comes out of the dryer needing ironing, it's a very long time before that item gets worn again. I hate ironing! Some people find it satisfying or relaxing. Not me.

Goes back to my youth, I guess. In the fifties, almost everything got ironed. I can't think of anything right off that didn't. Well, socks. And stockings. My father wore knit undershirts and boxer shorts, and they got ironed. Bras got ironed. Bedsheets got ironed. Dishtowels got ironed. Hankies. If the bath towels were badly scrunched, they got ironed.

There was no such thing as permanent press. No blends. Almost everything was cotton. Clothes came out of a dryer wadded into balls, or off the clothesline stiff as a board with vertical creases and folds where the clothespins had been. Heavier cotton items could stand by themselves. Sheets were often starched so they would stay cleaner longer, and they were often so hard they could cut your skin. They'd go into the ironing basket, and the morning of ironing day you'd sprinkle them.

Wow, that's an old term - "sprinkle the clothes".

We didn't have steam irons (well, maybe rich folks did, but we didn't), so you'd dampen the clothes for ironing with a coke bottle with a sprinkler head cork in the top. Then you'd roll each item tightly and stack the rolls so the moisture could permeate. If it was going to be more than a few hours, you'd put them in the refrigerator so they wouldn't get a mildew odor.

Being the eldest of five kids, ironing the flat items fell to me as soon as I could reach the top of the ironing board. I got pretty good. I can iron a man's shirt on a flat board so that there is no crease down the sleeve. There's a correct order for ironing a shirt: collar and cuffs, back yoke, front yoke, sleeves, body, retouch collar and cuffs. You do the collar and cuffs first and last because they are dampest. And have to be sharpest. Or something. Never quite understood the logic.

Anyway, it was a never-ending task. I hated it.

Just before I left for college, there was an incident that made me swear I would never iron anything that wasn't my own personal property ever again.

My father was rushing to go to an important meeting. He took off his uniform pants (Air Force), handed them to me, and said to sharpen the creases.

I do that well. You lay them out, carefully lining up the seams top and bottom and inside the legs, fold the upper leg over the top, dampen the crease with a moist sponge to remove the old crease, iron up the inside of the bottom leg, front and back, turn the pants over, and do the same to the outside, then repeat for the other leg.

The crease doesn't go all the way up on uniform pants. It stops a few inches below the waistband. He had handed me the pants with the belt still on, and I had left the belt on, since I wouldn't be working on that part. When he walked out to the kitchen and saw me lift the pants off the board with the belt still on them, he was furious and knocked me across the room.

Hey! I thought he was in a hurry! There was no reason to take the belt off!

I realized later, of course, that there was no winning. If I had taken it off, I'd have been hit because it would have cost him time to put it back on. He just wanted to hit someone because he was nervous about the meeting.

So, it is now three husbands later, and I have managed to iron very little. You don't like wrinkled sheets? Fine. Iron them yourself. Permanent press arrived, and I got to be an expert at removing things from the dryer and hanging them before they got wrinkled.

99% of my closet doesn't need ironing, ever. Some things I have to pull out of the dryer before they're completely dry, smooth them with my hands and let them hang, and some things I know to keep to a very small load.

But something has gone kerflooey.

A lot of things that have always behaved are now coming out of my new dryer a rumpled mess.

The new house has a gas dryer. I've never had a gas dryer before. It has five levels of heat, and I'm using the middle one, and sometimes the seams are still damp when I pull the clothes out, but the body of the blouse is wrinkled anyway. Never had that problem with my electric dryers.

I don't understand. And after two hours of ironing blouses, slacks, and caftans this morning, I'm very unhappy about it.

(My iron is more than 30 years old, the spray and steam spit spitefully. I had to sprinkle the clothes! I'll have to buy a new iron. Many bad words being muttered.)


Becs said...

I remember those Coke bottle sprinkler tops. I think Yankee catalog still sells them.

Oh, please be careful about buying a new iron! Most of them are crap. See if you can get a reconditioned old one.

A friend of mine paid over $100 for a Rowena iron that turned out to be a piece of junk.

I like ironing, but only when I don't have to. I like seeing instant results.

~~Silk said...

I think I've figured out why the new gas dryer wrinkles the clothes. The barrel of my electric dryers never got very hot. The drying was done by hot air being blown through the tumbling drum, and the air kept the clothes "floating" as they fell through the tumbling.

I noticed that in this dryer, the barrel itself gets hot, as well as the air, and the clothes don't float so much as they roll. On the hot barrel. Getting wrinkles ironed in.

little red said...

Ironing, ugh. I try to buy the cheapest iron I can get, usually in the $20-30 range - because I use them up, they break, fall on the floor and the reservoir gets cracked, something stupid like that. I've never had an expensive iron, and I don't ever intend to. My $25 irons work just fine for ironing the things that need pressing in my clothing business. Anything more expensive will just be a waste to me.