Monday, April 9, 2012

Caryl reveals: Lies, Dyes and her Miracle Dress

First of all, I lied.  Not even a little white one, this lie was many-hued.  When I told you in my last post that I had given up the Easter ritual of dying eggs, it wasn't true.  The thing about giving up family traditions, you have to get the family onboard. When my daughter and I arrived in the country this weekend and she spotted the chalk eggs, she exclaimed with audible horror:  “You mean we are not going to dye eggs this year?”  So we did. (I told you that ours never look Martha's, and they especially don’t look like Martha’s on Econesting. (Check out this terrific site and the incredible eggs pictured in the 4/7 post.)

I remembered that last Easter I was in New Delhi. It
happened to be my birthday as well so I went to the Sacred Heart Cathedral for mass and then to an Indian friend’s home for lunch.  I was wearing the bright yellow dress (shown below) over hot pink silk pants. I imagined I looked like the modestly dressed locals but I think I looked more like a psychedelic egg. I own this same dress from Dosa in silver-grey and an iridescent green and love them both. But the yellow, which I bought on sale (I forgot the cardinal rule of never buying anything on sale that you wouldn’t pay full price for) was a disaster.
As long as I was dying things this Easter, I decided to color my dress, give it a second life--so to speak. I used Rit’s (remember that stuff?) color extraction to remove the baby chick color. Initially, it turned the dress the color of early summer peonies, then white (except for the yellow thread).
Step 1: Color Extraction

Next I prepared the dye, using two packets of Rit’s Navy Blue. I moved the whole operation outside, where it couldn’t stain the blue stone patio. By now, I was really into this crafty scene.  Generally, I’m not much of a DIYer except in the country where I do things I never do in the city (like garden and cook!). 

Step 2:  Dye Mix
 Voila!  The dress came out navy blue. It was a miracle, if not a miracle dress.  I am pretty sure that Rit stuff was not exactly natural, however.  The directions said to wear gloves and to not inhale the dust from the packet. I wondered if I'd see another Easter.

Last year, after Delhi, I flew to the little-toured Indian state of Orissa and met with champion weavers who were making extraordinarily colored Ikats from natural dyes. But, alas, I didn’t have any cow dung available  this season; it makes a beautiful deep red. I do have plenty of flowers and berries and seeds, however, and according to a New York Times piece last week I can learn to make natural dyes.  Instead I just picked my garden's offerings for a spring bouquet and put them next to my chalk eggs, which I intend to keep until next year when I hope my family will be more accepting.


  1. can we get a pic of you modeling the dress?

  2. Ha! You know--unlike Maryl--I like to stay in the shadows.

  3. Nice DIY dye-job! And thanks for the blog love. Lovin' this second lives club! xo

  4. Ronnie,

    You are my inspiration when it comes to DIY--and blogging! So glad we found
    each other (even if we don't see each other) in the Hudson Valley).

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