Hello Monday - Dyeing with turmeric

A man came slowly from the setting sun,
To Emer of Borda, in her clay piled dun
And found her dyeing cloth with subtle care...
— W.B. Yeats

This weekend was spent remember the old and learning new things.

I'm remembering the frustration of being unable to just click away and purchase all the pretty things that make a room a cosy nest, I am remembering that's the price to pay for being at home with my little one, and that truly the price gained from working would not be high enough to compensate for that right now, not with my lack of qualifications.

I'm remembering lessons learned as a child, sewing, knitting, learning how to learn to create something new and beautiful from old things, parts and ingredients already owned.  

I'm learning that the sunflower curtain coveted on the internet can serve as inspiration for something unique and an impetus to try new skills and create.

I'm learning to move beyond the fear that it wouldn't look right, or perfect, and past other's doubts about the colour choice, learning to dive in cloth first and create something unique to our home.

Of course I'm learning that it can take more than one attempt to get where you want to be, to get to rich, bold colour reminiscent of saffron and the sun. The kitchen chemistry, the links to art and the history of human adornment, is not a mystery but still something disconnected from most of our existences now. 

First tipping, in my largest pot, which is not really very large at all, 1 cup of murray river pink salt, 16 cups of water and bringing them to the boil, then slowly draping 2.5 metres of linen down into the water, letting the fibres soak in the brine and simmering along for 45 minutes. Simultaneously in my next not really very large at all boiling pot 1 teaspoon of turmeric and 12 cups of water. Wandering off to other tasks while they bubbled away preparing for the change in colour, and returning to move the cloth into its dye bath. I tip the turmeric into a large bucket and on realising that the cloth would not be covered added hot water to the solution followed by the drained cloth. Over the next thirty minutes I occasionally prod and check, but I see that the dilution has cost me the colour I was chasing, so I rinse the now soft lemon cloth and hang it seeing the patchy white places caused by not agitating it while soaking.

My desire for a vibrant but deep colour has not waned in the face of the delicate lemon tones and so ever experimental I boil 2 heaped dessertspoons of turmeric in 16 cups of water, slowly draping the now dry cloth into it, taking care to open folds drenching each section before adding more and simmering for an hour.  During this quiet hour I potter in and out of the kitchen I using tongs to lift, swirl and turn to soften  variations of colour. A tall stock pot would have been better, but I persist using what I already have.

At the end of the hour I can see the deep rich saffron-like colour the turmeric dye has imparted, gently I rinse the fabric and hang to dry once more readying it to sew it into a curtain, perfect for my lovely sunshiney girls new space.