What I Wore: My Bibi’s Shawl

pink chai livingSince losing my grandparents not a day goes by that I don’t try to create a detailed picture of them in my mind. A part of me is afraid that one day I’ll forget my Papa’s smile, or I won’t remember the details on my Bibi’s hands – I want to preserve them in my mind exactly as they were.dyeing an old shawl

In my desperation to hold on tight to those memories, I’ve become a bit obsessed with things that once belonged to them; things they might have touched. When my mom told me that she was thinking about throwing out my Bibi’s old shawl because it was discoloured and stained and no one would actually wear it, I was torn. Do I keep something just for sentimental value that will take up space in my already overflowing house, or do I let it go? In the end, I couldn’t let it go and decided to dye it a dark blue.dyeing an old shawl, pink chai living

dyeing an old shawl, rit dye, pink chai

After four attempts at dying the shawl with various techniques it never did take the deep royal blue colour I was hoping for, but it did take on enough of a blue-ish tone to cover the yellowish tinge and stains it had before. My guess is that the fabric of the shawl is not wool, but some strange mix of synthetic fabrics that doesn’t take well to dye.pink chai livingpink chai living

At first I was angry about my failed DIY. I really wanted this project to turn out perfect, but the more I looked at, the more I loved it. If it had taken the dark shade of blue it wouldn’t have looked anything like the shawl that belonged to my Bibi. Now it’s still her shawl with a touch of my style – the perfect compromise.

I may never get another hug from my Bibi in the flesh, but as I sit here writing this post in my pyjamas, I’m wrapped up in her shawl and it feels pretty close. 

PS: More about my amazing Bibi and the woman she was, and How my Papa started my love affair with chai



  1. October 28, 2015 / 11:14 am

    Thanks for sharing something so close to your heart!

    From my personal experience, if you are still interested in dying the shawl, Indian dyers are amazing.

  2. October 30, 2015 / 7:09 am

    Really appreciate the openness with which you share this story and weave it in with fashion and how it has the ability to be very symbolic and have great personal and cultural value.

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