Monday, October 30, 2006

Indigo Dye

Saturday I took a pound of wool and used up the indigo dye bath that I have been fermenting for three weeks. Since I had let it sit for so long without using it I thought for sure that it wouldn't work.

It most certainly did work though. It dyed the wool a beautiful shade of blue - first a light shade and then darker and darker after every dip. I dipped it about 6 times over a three hour period of time.

I can think of nothing but blue jeans when I look at the color. The indigo color is just like the blue jeans of today.

I had done quite a lot of things different than the indigo recipe called for. I did not keep it in a warm place and therefore it took quite a while to be ready - a good two weeks at our room temperature (about 65-68 degrees) vice the week that the recipe stated. Since the indigo color was too blue in the dye vat, I felt it needed more soda ash and added 2 more ounces to the bath - doubling what was called for in the recipe and making it significantly more basic. After doing that, the dye bath finally turned a blue-green color. I also didn't stir it everyday like I was supposed to. I kept it quite airtight in a lidded crock that I bought in Germany which I think really saved it from ruin.

According to the recipe, the yarn should have been a yellow-green on the initial dip and then turn blue when it touched the air. My yarn did turn a greenish-blue in the initial dye bath but it was hard to see because it turned blue very quickly.

I am very pleased with the results. I can't wait to knit a pair of socks with the wool.

I also did another pound of wool in the walnut dye that had been sitting outside for a month. I filtered off the mold from the top and heated it back up. The brown was not as strong this time but it still is a very pretty color. I threw out the rest of the dye bath after this use. I didn't keep the indigo either.

Not sure what color is next. I bought some cochineal bugs so that may be the next color.

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