tart and sweet at the same time

Embroidered Dish Towels


This year I decided to give lemon sugar and dish towels to my friends. The local fabric store no longer carries dish towel cloth (can you imagine?), but they sent me to the dollar store (can you imagine?) where I found these vibrant towels just waiting to brighten the lives of people I love.

The lemon sugar was so simple to make and the whole house smelled of brightness, of summer, of energy. I’d been collecting sweet little jars as we finished the contents, and had a lovely assortment to use.


Lemon Sugar


I used a little double-sided tape to help the ribbon stay put. The tags were something that I wanted to be special – somehow I’m finally learning more and more to put the effort into the presentation of handmade gifts that I put into the gifts themselves – and for the first time in months I had the watercolours out. Little lemons on stiff paper, so minimalist and pleasing.

The dish towels did an admirable job of wrapping, and I loved the look of these stubby, bright cylinders in a row. It was hard to break up the set.


Embroidered Dish Towels


I had so much fun embroidering these, looking at the black lines and trying to get my brain firing some creative neurons and imagining the possible colours. My mind is pretty literal and my ability to visualize is not strong. Turning black lines into colour and then picking the stitch that had the texture I wanted was playful and rewarding. I used a lot of split stitch, which is really the first time I’ve done anything with it. It’s a lovely, firm, well-behaved stitch.


Embroidered Dish Towels


Embroidered Dish Towels


Embroidered Dish Towels

bee and flowers

Embroidered Dish Towels

rice bowl

(the little doodle beneath is from the flowers set from the same company)

Embroidered Dish Towels

the blue around the eyes bled on this one so I made the butterfly for my friend and kept this for myself instead


This was a really rewarding set of gifts to make. Each stitch had me thinking of colour, of texture, of the way these would transform something usually mundane into an act of experiencing colour and remembering friendship.

It is such a wonderful gift to the giver when the process is so full of emotion and anticipation, isn’t it?


16 thoughts on “tart and sweet at the same time

  1. Gudrun says:

    What beautiful thoughtful presents indeed! I too love to give handmade….I love that the process of knitting each item makes me sit and think about the recipient….and fills each stitch with love!

  2. Madcap says:

    Those are just beautiful – I’ll have to check out the dollar store for the bright coloured tea-towels I like. Who knew?

    And the embroidery is charming – lucky friends!

  3. Wendy says:

    Those are fantastic! And I know what you mean about not wanting to break up the set. My favorite part of present making is just before I give them out, when they’re all sitting there together. Especially when they match, but aren’t all the same.

  4. Heather says:

    Those are stunning. (Dare I say almost too lovely to use?)

    I’m just learning embroidery but I think I’ll give those a try. They’d make great birthday gifts this year.

  5. JoVE says:

    Those are gorgeous. I recognize the birds pattern. I was inspired by you last year and made a table runner for my mom using that pattern.

    The tea towels are gorgeous but I am partial to bright colours.

  6. livnletlrn says:

    Yup, we too know the joy of giving something special and handmade. I love that the feeling of giddy anticipation about *giving* is much greater than that of receiving in my family at xmastime.

    Those tea towels could not be more delightful. Combined with the lemon sugar and overall presentation, what a perfect gift!

  7. Jennifer says:

    What great gifts, beautiful job on the embroidery. I just made a set of embroidered stockings for gifts, there is something wonderful about sitting comfortably and slowly stitching a beautiful image isn’t there. Great job, I bet the smell of the lemon sugar is amazing.

  8. GailV says:

    Praises for split-stitch as a “well-behaved stitch” … snicker snicker snort. I have a mental image of you standing dressed a dominatrix, whip in one hand, floss and hoop in the other, demanding submission from the stitches. It’s a vision totally at odds with the pictures of the lovely tea towels, sugars, and tags in the post, of course.

    (Funny you should mention that your mind tends to be literal and your ability to visualize isn’t strong; I think I might have a bit too much creativity in my visualizations.)

  9. woolydaisy says:

    i Love all your handmade holiday gifts! you are an inspiration!!!! the embroidered towels are very cool. in fact that is one thing i am going to learn this year-embroidery!!!!
    i was wondering if the dish towels are machine washable after they are embroidered?

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