I'll explain the cheesy picture in a minute. Basically, I have been stitching tea towels today - and they look a bit boring. Because when I say stitching, I really mean hemming and since I made a couple of dozen, that was a lot of stitches with not too much special to show for it - apart from a couple of dozen hemmed tea towels. They are not monogrammed, beflowered, becrossed - just plain unbleached, untouched linen. The thing is, if you have a church bazaar, a charity sale and need tea towels, then I'm your gal. I can turn them out in vast quantities. I use anything from good but unusable striped or huckaback vintage table-cloths, Laura Ashley furnishing linen in sale swatches to some fabulous natural linen I stumbled across in IKEA at the end of one of those visits when you can neither find the way out nor the will to find the way out. It is always surreal buying fabric in IKEA since you buy by weight - at least you have time to take stock and literally brace yourself for the journey home. When making tea towels, after I have cut out the pieces, I pin up my hair into some fanciful pompadour, then get out the steam iron, put on some music - today I listened to Ry Cooder's and V M Bhatt's Meeting By The River - and I finger turn and steam press all the hems. I have the art of turning double quarter inch hems without running over my fingertips with the iron as it follows along, down to a T. When I have done, I unpin my hair and after all that steaming it can look as good as if I'd been to the hairdressers. Sometimes it's just a disaster. But it's like Christmas, you never know what might turn up, so it's fun. I do recommend it. Anyway, I realized I was a few tea towels short of a decent batch, so I went for a hunt to see if there was anything else that could possibly be reimagined as a tea towel. And that was when I found my stash of fabulous tea towelling I had bought in Bologna nearly 10 years ago! In my heart of hearts I think I just wanted to preserve it pristine - it wasn't that we have had the same tea towels for ten years - please don't think that of me. So here we are getting to the nub of our topic - you are very patient, thank you. I was in Bologna with Richard who was photographing something to do with the G8 conference - he is FRPS which means he faffs around with a lot of photo kit and the time before I joined him on assignment I had the astonishing experience of fleeing a bomb, turning a corner and finding myself face to face with someone in a balaclava who had a finger on the trigger of a very serious automatic gun. Fortunately I didn't scare him by screaming and he didn't jump and pull the trigger and just turned away. But that is a story for another time. There's another one that involves a sea-eagle when I was mountain climbing in the Lofotens, but if I go there now, we'll never get anywhere tonight. So, back to Bologna. A favourite city of mine with its miles of portici and fabulous cloth and book stores. Instead of lying in the road pointing a camera at serried rows of confronting armed populace, I went shopping for linen. And that was when I found the tea towelling which you would have loved too - it has two lovely green stripes down each selvedge and I bought a few kilos of it to take home. When a couple of years or so after Bologna, I started imaging sampler collections for museums, Richard would sometimes come along and help out. Because, wonderful photographer that he is, he was a darling innocent as far as samplers were concerned, I had to find a way of expressing to him the distance and size of tripod rig I needed for detail shots. While Newton had his Newtons and Ohm his Ohms as standard units of reference, I, Jacqueline Holdsworth, devised the TeaTowel. Shots were either one TeaTowel, half a TeaTowel and so on. (Richard is a good British husband who is very tea towel savvy.) He got so good at photographing samplers in the end, he imaged the entire Micheal and Elizabeth Feller Collection for the new book. And they are fabulous, fabulous images and not a balaclava in sight! So, now you know why I am wearing the T Shirt (and not a Tea Towel). Well, almost. Richard fended off pains in his knee and ankle while working and as soon as the work was complete he was whisked off for surgery - three lots in fact. AND that is why I decided upon a Richard Holdsworth fan club. There's not just me, understand, there's also one or two others. So TORCHONS. No this is not the French invitation to arsonists and other deviant pyromaniacs you might first imagine, torchons are French tea towels - and I make those too - for French friends. My kind French friend, Marie-Louise, says that just as the Japanese wrap their gifts in beautiful cloths, she also wraps gifts for her friends in vintage French tea towels. Imagine how wonderful it is to be on the receiving end of those gifts! I thought you might like to try. Go on - call me cloth head - I'm not proud!