“Go Dye A Sweater”: A New Year’s Eve Story

Well, it’s 2021. Let’s go! I’m trying to feel motivated and looking forward to sharing some historical photos in a four week series this January.

However, since we’ve got five Sundays in the month, I thought it might be fun to start off with something a little lighter. Something crazy happened on New Year’s Eve, and it turned out to be a reflective moment. Perhaps it will bring a little smile to your weekend.

So…homemade French Onion Soup was on the menu for the last evening of 2020. I’m in a precautionary quarantine, so I had ordered and curbside picked up the few specialty ingredients I needed. Including a bottle of inexpensive red wine. And that’s where the adventure begins.

The onions were caramelizing beautiful and it was almost time to add the wine. Rummaging through my cooking utensil drawer, I realized I didn’t have a corkscrew. I don’t drink wine, and it’s just not a tool I had added to the collection. Oh well, there are other ways to remove a cork…believe me, I tried them that night.

Screw and Nail.


Two different knives.


By this time the cork was starting to fall apart at the top, but I had broken its seal and just needed to pull it out. The smaller knife stuck and I thought I was pulling the cork out. The bottle was in the sink and I was leaning over it, working carefully.

Then it happened. The cork went down, instead of up. Red wine SHOWERED everywhere. All over my favorite white and blue striped sweater. Between laughter and wanting to cry, I shrugged. So 2020. Ruin my favorite winter sweater on the last day of the year.

French Onion Soup – New Year’s Eve 2020

The soup was great! And I ate it in my wine splattered garment. When I went back into the kitchen to finish the dishes, there was the wine bottle. Still full—minus the splatters and the 1/2 cup in the soup. My fridge is having difficulties so I couldn’t save it for another soup later in the week, I wasn’t going to drink it, and I thought about just pouring it out. It wasn’t expensive, and it had served its culinary purpose.

But what if I could take lemons and make lemonade? Or take wine and make dye?

At that time, I thought I probably couldn’t get the stains out of my sweater, but what if I could hide them? Impulsively, I grabbed a bucket, changed out of the sweater, took the wine, and set up a work station in the bathtub.

There was something extremely satisfying about intentionally pouring red wine on a white sweater. “Take that 2020.”

It took a little work to get the liquid mixed evenly on the cotton sweater, but when I was happy with it, I rinsed it gently and hung it up to dry. Now, it was a blue and light lavender sweater!

Go dye a sweater?

When problems come, we can throw everything away, give up, and start over. (Buy a new sweater.) Sometimes, that is the way to go. I’ve done that before. But sometimes, we have the opportunity to embrace the situation, find a crazy solution, and go for it…in the hope that something better will come from it. (Dye the sweater.)

I can’t un-do or re-do the things I’ve done in 2020. With that blessed hindsight, I wish I had done a few things differently. Going into a new year I can take my “didn’t accomplish that” lists from 2020 and give up, or I can look for ways to take what I’ve got and work to transform it into something beautiful. It might not always be successful, but I’m learning that literally and figuratively I’d rather “dye the sweater” than throw it in the trash can.

Oh, and there was another little lesson that I discovered the following morning when I decided to properly wash the dyed sweater. It came out of the washer and dryer…not lavender, but with the former splattered areas now a uniform shade of pretty, light purple-gray. Honestly, I was disappointed when I first saw the progress. (Photo at the end of post.)

Perhaps it’s a little reminder that, as time passes, our little daily disasters and our attempted solutions will fall into perspective. Maybe fade a little, teach us some lessons, and become something more than we had ever imagined.

2020 – thanks for the last lesson. I’ll take it with me in 2021. I want to “go dye a sweater” and not give up. And then I’ll stand back and see how that dyed mess can fade into something new with its own surprising story.

Wishing YOU hope and the spirit of “go dye a sweater” for the new year!


P.S. Yes, I already added a cork screw to my shopping list for later in the month.

Styling the finished sweater…

Published by Sarah Kay Bierle

I’m Sarah Kay Bierle, author, speaker, and researcher. Past and present, everyone has a story. What will we discover and discuss?

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