When my grandmother needed a break from her daily chores she would sit down in her big wooden rocker and do her stitching, which usually meant mending shirts or darning socks. But it was when she was doing embroidery that got my attention. I loved all the pretty colored threads and the tiny stitches she was making.
It was this grandmother, who had the patience of Job, that taught my sister and I how to cross stitch on flour sack towels.
Up until 1950, food items such as flour, sugar, cornmeal, and chicken feed were packaged in tightly woven 50-100 pound cotton sacks. During the depression, between 1929 and the late 1930's, everything was hard to come by. Frugal housewives would re-use these cotton sacks and make them into clothing, toys, quilts, curtains, pillowcases, and of course, dish towels.
1949 newspaper ad
In the 1950's flour companies began using a cheaper method of packaging, paper sacks, and the re-use of flour sack towels went by the wayside.
As a kitchen towel, flour sack towels are lint free, dry quickly and wash beautifully.
I refuse to use a kitchen towel without something pretty stitched on it...
and still love all the threads and doing embroidery.