Thursday, June 02, 2011

Clothesline Season....

 (looks innocent enough, doesn't it?)

It's turning warmer now (86* today!) since I flipped the calendar page to June.  That means it's clothesline season once again and nearly all the family laundry goes to the clothesline for drying. I like fresh, line-dried clothes -- crisp, mostly unwrinkled, fresh-smelling, sun-kissed.  And the towels are crisp and rough which makes for a nice luffa-style rubdown out of the shower.  Some people like their towels soft, but I like mine best when they are line-dried and scratchy.  How do you take your towels?  (By the way, I want to try to grow some luffa this summer in the garden.)

Back when my mother-in-law, Hazel, lived next door, we shared our laundry tips and techniques with each other.  She told me that the best sort of day for line-drying was when a "friendly breeze" was blowing.  I knew exactly what she meant.  You want a breeze, but not a strong wind or a gale --just a light breeze that will gently waft the wet laundry, snapping out the wrinkles, making a relatively fast drying time, but not beating up the clothes.  The problem is when you live on the prairie, you most often get a harsh, whipping wind rather than a friendly breeze and so you must take what you get or only wash on "nice days."  The past few days we've had strong winds, to say the least, yet it hasn't stopped me from hanging out the clothes.  I do regret hanging out the sheets yesterday, but I did it anyway.  Here's the 27 second video to prove it.

Some people go to great lengths to get that fresh, outdoor-dried scent on their sheets and pillowcases, and I am one of them.  Do you hear the "ding donging" in the background?  That's my iron wind chime.  A takes a pretty stiff breeze to get it clanging.  The hardest part about drying the sheets yesterday was taking them off the line. 

One thing my mother-in-law taught me was to hang laundered jeans out on pants stretchers.  Have you ever seen these?  They are made of a light gauge metal that is in the shape of a pants leg -- wider at the top and narrowing toward the bottom.. They are expandable so you can stretch the denim out and get a perfect crease down the center of your jeans or trousers without ironing.  A crease is something lots of cowboys like.  I used them for many years and then my kids turned into teenagers and told me that they wanted no more of creases down the centers of their jeans and traded in their Wranglers for baggy jeans so that ended that chore.  Now the jeans hang free by their waistbands, legs flapping in the breeze.  No more stiff-legged jeans  fighting the wind.

When the kids were littles, I hung out all the diapers and plastic pants on the clothesline.  I think I washed diapers every other day, especially when we had two children in diapers at a time, which was every year except the year our firstborn was the only baby in the house and the year our 5th child was 2 or 3 years old.  We had a new baby every two years so I always had two children in diapers for about 10 years or so.  I really did like hanging out the diapers all in a row and letting the sun bleach them bright and white.  I suppose they were not as soft as diapers dried in the dryer, much like the luffa towels, but they did what they were designed to do.

Did you ever make tents underneath the clothesline?  We did, and so did our kids.  We hung blankets over the clothesline so that two or three of the wires were used.  That made the tent wide and it had a nice roof.  You had to use quite a few clothespins to keep the blankets from pulling and sliding.  Sometimes we took our naps under the clothesline tent and played house outdoors all afternoon.  We also made tents with blankets over the picnic table and camped out in the backyard in them at night, everybody snugly tucked into their sleeping bags with flashlights just in case we got scared and had to go into the house in the middle of the night.

Some of my favorite things about hanging out the clothes.....
The smell
The sound of birds singing
The sun
The friendly breezes
Seeing my daily work all in rows (there's a sense of seeing your accomplishments)
Carrying a baby in a basket of dry clothes
Saving money on electricity
Mostly no wrinkles
If I missed a stain, it's usually not set
It's fun to run through clothes or lay underneath the clothesline

What about you?  Any favorite clothesline memories to share?


  1. Whoa! That is quite a breeze for sure. Maybe I'll have Dear put out a line so I can put our sheets out on it... once it stops raining ;0)

  2. Hello Jody :)

    Wow, if I had a clothesline I would say that you are taping that from our house :) We have had up to 45 mph winds today in SW CO. That is another reason why I am anxiously awaiting my husband to put up a line for me :)

    Have a blessed day!

  3. My mom had lines under our deck and my grandmother had a spinning line. Bill hangs our laundry out on the line and has my pajamas back in my drawer at bedtime. I think I'll get some new pegs and a make a peg bag in celebration of those sweet breezes! Great post, Jody!

  4. Gosh you brought back some memories I haven't thought of in a while....wish I could hang out my clothes, but the wind is just what you post except....blowing dirt and "other stuff". We hung our clothes out when I was a kid and in the wintertime, we hung them all ovet the house! Thanks for taking me back to memory lane!

  5. That's a stiff breeze you got there! Or, as my husband used to say when we lived in Iowa, "a perfectly good day, ruined by wind." Phew! I don't have a clothesline right now. My laundry room is in the basement, and it would be a challenge to get it outdoors anywhere. I have a line down there for a few things. I don't like the scratchy towels -- I'm a soft-towel girl, myself. Never seen those pants stretchers before either! But then again, growing up in Mississippi, I'd never heard of snow pants, until I moved to Iowa :)

  6. I love this post! I remember my mom using the pants stretchers years ago; I think she got rid of them when we moved to town.

    I don't hang clothes out very often - just jeans, and towels when I do. And I loved having a line full of baby diapers as well. Such memories!

  7. That is some kind of wind you have! Glad you didn't get blown away. I had to watch it a 2nd time with the sound glad I thought to listen, too, because there was something to hear! Oh...I love, love, love that round picnic table! I want one! =D

  8. friendly breeze here in East Anglia today - washing gaily dancing on the line!
    thanks for your joyful post! blessings x

  9. Oh my goodness Jody, I loved your video. The sound of sheets blowing in the wind is one of my favourite sights. It reminds me of washing day when I was growing up. I miss having a line for washing and wish I'd had one today as we had temps of 24C today. I remember well that smell of fresh, crisp sundried washing.
    We also used to make tents in the garden with blankets and washinglines:) It is 7:00 pm here in England, the sun is shining, a slight breeze is blowing, doors and windows are open letting all the dry warmth in. Mostly it is peaceful with the sound of my neighbours sprinkler watering his lawn. And then of course this peaceful setting is shattered by the increase of summer air traffic:(

  10. Hi Lady! I do remember those jeans drying thingies! I never had them (old hippie here), but I remember seeing them around town flapping in the hot West Texas wind. I remember reading somewhere, that you could dry a pair of overalls on a clothesline in 5 minutes during the dead heat of a Texas summer -- wouldn't doubt it! Maybe I'll try it someday ;). And actually, although we live in a relatively new neighborhood (no clotheslines), I had one put in when we built this house (our contractor looked at me like I had two heads ;), and mostly because I do love love the smell and feel of sheets and bedding dried on the line. I don't use mine for every day like you (guess I'm too lazy ;(), but I do use it often for rugs and blankets, etc. Clotheslines are a good thing!

  11. Loved your clothesline memories! Many of them resonate with me. I bet that stiff wind is stressful for your faithful clothesline supports! I didn't have the sound on when I watched the video. I'll have to try it again so I can hear your iron windchime! I'm so glad you mentioned the rough towels. I thought I was doing something wrong when mine turned out that way. You always see the positive side of things, don't you? Good for you, Jody! :)

  12. I've enjoyed reading all your comments. We all have a few clothesline memories to share, don't we? It's funny how a "drying utility" can become a memory maker.

    Thanks for stopping by.


  13. today i will be washing the bedding and my thought as i was loading the washing machine was 'too bad i don't have a line to dry the sheets on . . . they smell so good when they're dried that way . . .

    a great post.

  14. LOVE this post!!!!!
    My mom had those pants thingies. Used them on my dad's pants. She hated ironing. :)
    Such wind you had!
    I also love the smell of the clothes off the line.

  15. Do you know hanging out your clothes on the line is one of the best things you can do for the environment? I need to get mine back up for summer!

    That's some wind you got blowing there, partner!


  16. WooHoo girl, that is some wind. I bet they were dry in no time!!! xoxo Clarice


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