It’s not yet winter, in fact it’s still early autumn, but Ruth Drew in The Happy Housewife, a book of her writings published after her untimely death, she believes in being prepared – so what should you do? Obvious, cheer up your winter hat. I don’t have any hats, and so it’s only a guess that she would have meant a heavy felt hat of some sort, with a brim to keep the rain away. here are her thoughts:

A felt hat’s better for the inevitable good brushing, and better still if you hold it in the steam from a boiling kettle. Treat the crown first, turning the hat slowly in the steam. Then give it a second brushing – with the nap of course, and with a smoothing sweep. The trick here is to avoid getting the felt too wet. If you over steam and make it sodden, there may be trouble with shrinkage.

I’m sure it is very good advice, but I couldn’t help smiling; ‘with the nap of course’ as if anyone should dram of doing it against the nap! … and then the problem of over steaming and trouble with shrinkage! I did have a little giggle!

She also considers how to tackle winter boots:

When winter comes, questions about cleaning the lambswool lining of boots are never far behind. Of course it is very snug to have lambswool making a neat little ruff at the top of one’s boots, but all too soon the wool gets dirty, and then comes the problem…

Ruth continues for nearly a page with how to tackle ‘the problem’; she suggests dry cleaning powder or carpet shampoo, in which she employs ‘the foam technique’…

We have so many chemical products for these problems these days, and the fabrics are often treated to make them resistant to wet and dirt, and we spend so little time actually out in the weather, and even when we do our streets and the air is cleaner… and we could always take the problem item to a dry cleaners! I think we are much lazier than we used to be!

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