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Green Beginnings: An Apron, A Clothesline

The Journal

A Nashville photographer's story blog.

Green Beginnings: An Apron, A Clothesline

Amy Roberts

Our home is the definition of farmhouse. Lingering in the very bones of this place are reminders of its origins - a laundry shoot, a real well, and a dinner bell on the back door tether this space to the habits of rural life. But the most obvious bit of history built into the backyard are two concrete T-shaped posts erected beneath the gnarly maple - a permanent clothesline setup.

It makes me laugh to think that the builders of this home were so certain that clotheslines would be the way of things forever that they actually installed these massive, everlasting posts into the property itself. I have no idea how deep they are, but a friend recently stood for several seconds staring in confusion at the empty statues and finally asked if they were massive anchors or something (like from a pirate ship) because that’s all they could fathom.

Yet this house is influencing me, I think, because if you looked at my recent search history, you’d find the phrase “what to know about clotheslines.” We’ve hung two lines on either side of the posts, and we’re going to start giving this a shot. I love the idea of drying my clothes in the open air, of having crisp linens against my skin, and of saving a bit of money and electricity in the process.

(I should probably pressure-wash those posts.)

I bought standard clothesline and a pack of pins, and had Justin help me find the right knots for hanging it. We ended up using a Tautline Hitch knot, which you can find a tutorial for here.

I started finding out about the concerns with leaving washing out overnight (spiders might want to build their nests in your clothes, so… NO), freeze-drying in winter, and which clothespins were the best. The best resource for me was definitely this post from The 104 Homestead, so if you’re interested you should definitely check out her article.

One piece of advice I found in my research was to secure an apron with hefty pockets so you don’t have to lug around a bag of clothespins. I didn’t have an apron, but I could envision a dreamy old-world vibe where laundry included fabrics in the breeze and linen tied around my waist. I clearly needed a linen one, because vibes. 

I didn’t have an apron, but I did have an old linen hand-me-down shower curtain from Target that I’d been saving for a project. I love re-purposing things (Sound of Music coordinating outfits, anyone?) because it keeps items out of landfills that much longer, and Mama Nature really appreciates that.

I looked at some beautiful apron patterns. This free one from Purl Soho was particularly tempting, but I’m not really someone who does things properly the first time.

It so happens that I’m a barista by day, so I was able to simply use that apron and whip up a simple-and-easy pattern of my own.

I’m really happy with the results! So, I now have a new apron from an old curtain, and I’m employing a new way of doing laundry, except that it’s actually an old way that is only new to me. In my old house, which is also my new house, and is Justin’s literal old house from his childhood, but is now... kind of his new house?

I’ll make the coffee while you think on that.

If you have any advice for clothesline beginners, please let me know in the comments!