My Bibi’s Shawl: Repurposed & Preserved

Today would have been my Bibi’s 88th birthday. But if she were here with us, we probably wouldn’t have celebrated it. Not because we didn’t love her (or any excuse for a party), she just never would have allowed it. She wasn’t the type of person to celebrate or make a big fuss about herself. And if someone showed up with a cake anyway, she would spend the whole evening complaining about the fuss.

As the years go by without her, I often find myself struggling to remember little details. What did her hands really look like? Where was the mole on her chin exactly? Sometimes I close my eyes and try to remember her voice, and it breaks my heart when I realize the sound is slipping away. Maybe that’s why I’m so protective of the things I have which once belonged to her.

my bibis shawl{This is what the shawl originally looked like when I rescued it in 2015}

This shawl was her every day shawl. When she passed away, it was already kind of ratty and stained in a few places. The family had put it in a donation pile, but I just couldn’t let it go. There were so many other almost brand new shawls in her things, but I wanted the one she wore every day.

If you’ve been a reader for a while, you might remember that I tried to dye this shawl a deep royal blue a couple of years ago. I was trying to cover up some of the stains and make it more wearable in my day to day wardrobe. Unfortunately, my early attempts at dyeing didn’t really work, and the stain didn’t really take. Over the years, I’ve learned a bit more about different types of dyes, and have finally managed to update the shawl to a pretty purple shade.

my bibis shawl

{The results from the first dye job versus the recent one}

It turns out the first time I dyed the shawl, the dye I chose was actually only suitable for 100% fibers (like 100% cotton, or 100% wool), and the shawl is actually a blend of fibers. This time around I used the Rit synthetic dye and it worked beautifully!

I’m so happy to have a piece of my grandmother’s wardrobe hanging in my closet, and most importantly, to be able to mix and match it with the pieces in my closet. That’s a priceless feeling.

my bibis shawl

PS: My grandmother also left me her old brass dishes, and they are currently on display at the Museum of Surrey, but only for a few more weeks!




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