Even though the ironing usually waits until it is a mountain, I actually like ironing. I put on the tv or a video and iron as I listen and watch.
There is a rhythm to the movements and a logic to the order in which to iron a piece. For example, my mother taught me how to iron a shirt: first, do the collar. If there is a yoke, iron that. Press the back of the sleeves first and then the front. This is a good time to do the cuffs if they need it. I usually work my way around the body of the shirt, one front, the back, the other front. Of course I iron around the buttons when I am so disposed.
Even for easy pillowcases there is a way to iron and fold. Actually, there are a few ways. Some people fold their pillowcases in thirds (and I bet they do their towels this way, too) but in spite of my mother’s teachings, I don’t. I iron the back of the pillowcase first, then as I fold the front in halves, I iron those. The fancy part at the bottom is on the outside so I can see it. In the cupboard I put a lavender sachet or a scented soap in with the pillowcases to make my bed smell lovely when I change it.
The flat I currently live in has an ironing board in a cupboard. How cool is that! When you open the door to the cupboard, the ironing board comes out while the bottom door of the cupboard opens up to let the support down. There is a smaller ironing board for sleeves that you can also pull down. Beside this cupboard is a little metal cupboard where you can park your iron, though it is now too small for modern irons. There is even a plug next to the ironing board. Obviously ironing was much more important in 1945 than it is now.
Of course now we use steam irons, but when I was learning to iron from my mother, she used a sort of cork with holes in it that she would put into a pop bottle. That was used to moisten the pieces and then as she ironed it created steam and smoothed out the wrinkles.
It’s not just standing and ironing. There is bending to the basket to get the next piece. Walking to the closet to get hangers. Putting the piles away in drawers or cupboards or the charity bag.
Ironing allows me to look at these wrinkly pieces more closely. I can admire my grandmother’s handwork on pieces from her trousseau or practice cross-stitch pieces from a Turkish village. I remember who this came from or where. I notice holes or stains. I decide whether I still like this top or dress anymore. It’s good to be reminded of these things and perhaps is what binds me to them.
Even though ironing is not my favourite activity, I do appreciate what I get out of it, as I go down the straight, if not narrow, ways.