A mystery linen shirt, a hedge top, a cauldron and a summer sky are the main characters in this post. Today I give you a blue story.
Once upon a time there was a shirt, a white linen shirt named Calvin Klein. At leas that was the name on a tag at the back of the shirt’s neck. One morning, sky blue with just a few fuzzy clouds, she found herself casually draped over a hedge in a residential area, a very peculiar place to wake up in for a white shirt. Her back ached and she wasn’t very pleased about her situation.
A hedgerow conundrum
The house occupants were puzzled about the shirt’s arrival in their hedge, a perfectly fine white shirt, hanger and all. They confered for a while and decided to leave it in the hedge for a couple of days in case someone recognized it as theirs. But nobody claimed the shirt. The mother of the house decided the teenage daughter would be the new guardian of the shirt. And so Calvin came to stay with the family in the teenager’s closet.
This was over 30 years ago. Calvin was worn and enjoyed for many years. For a while she was too small and for another while just fine again. The owner wasn’t much of a white shirt wearer, though. Still, Calvin was worn on a beloved auntie’s funeral only last summer.
Blue is coming to town
An indigo dyer came to town and offered a dip in their cauldron to clothes in need of some vibrant blues in their lives. Calvin had got some mysterious stains, and the now 50-year old woman figured Calvin would be the perfect candidate for some indigo dyeing.
When the woman was about to scour Calvin to make her susceptible to the dye she discovered some torn spots in the armpits. She put a linen patch behind the spots and made neat stitches with linen thread to protect them from further damage.
The dyeing day came. The woman rode her bike the nine kilometers to the museum where the dyeing was to take place. She met up with her friend, she too with garments to dye, and together with lots of other people looking for some more blue in their lives and wardrobes, they began to dip their textiles in the cauldron, that looked a lot like a large plastic tub. The friend had brought two pieces of natural linen folded into cubes to experiment with some shibori-style dyeing.
The indigo bath had a yellow-greenish colour and a compost-like smell. Yet, the two friends trusted the instructors and kept dipping. And there was magic. Once they took the textiles out of the cauldron the limey green started turning blue. They swayed the sopping wet textiles in the air and watched the blue magic happen.
This was the first time the woman had dyed with indigo and she made lots of mistakes. But she learned from them and got a first sense of what it is like to dye with indigo. There was lots of dipping, drippning, airing and laughter. Some rain too.
After a few hours, cauldron (and stomachs) was almost empty, the rain plenty and the woman really had to pee, so the two friends gave their dyed textiles a final wash and went their separate ways.
Wet and hungry and with soaking wet textiles in her backpack, thee woman rode her bike the nine kilometers back home. She tossed the garments into the washing machine and got a lovely dinner that her teenager had made.
The following day the clothes were dry. They were a bit lighter than she had expected and a little more uneven that she had hoped for. But still, very beautiful. Calvin was very happy with her new look that reminded her of the sky that day when she had woken up atop the hedge.
And the mending? It turned into a beautiful blue too.
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