I don't know what it is, but I cannot walk past a piece of embroidered linen in a charity shop without feeling the urge to grab it and take it home. Although there is loads of it around, I just feel that it won't be here for ever, and it needs to be treasured. I get even more excited if it has an Economy mark (see above, right), which means that it is from the wartime era. Today, I found these two tablecloths and an Irish linen towel. They are not the prettiest or most amazing pieces I've ever seen, but each one has so much intricate stitching and detailed hand work that I couldn't bear to leave them to their £2 fate. They had to join my collection.
Thanks to this month's BBC Homes and Antiques magazine, I've made a great discovery. If the linen is marked, which it quite often is, a long soak in a bowl of water and a few capfuls of Napisan really does the trick. I searched high and low for Napisan, which is a kind of stain remover made for soaking cloth nappies, and I finally tracked some down in Morrisons supermarket last week. If you have linen which needs help, this is the stuff to buy.
There were rich pickings in my local charity shops today. I had to resist a lot, but I did take the linen and a very pretty pink cashmere sweater.