Indigo

A long time ago, in a land not that far away, I got a Jaquard Indigo Dye Kit from Knit Picks. It’s been so long that the product packaging has been updated.

I finally used it by starting an indigo vat in mid-June with hookedferret/silverdragn, my dye buddy and enabler. The kit comes with enough pre-reduced indigo dye 5lbs of material. I think we dyed about 1-1.5lbs of yarn & roving that day. Then she hosted a dye day that I ended up not being able to go to and several of our friends dyed even more yarn and roving. How much? I have no idea. But I knew that I’d probably need to revive the vat when I got it home.

After reading lots of info about reviving a vat, I went to JoAnn’s and got some RIT Color Remover (for its sodium hydrosulfite). I also picked up some soda ash, though I can’t remember if it was to help revive the vat or to scour some yarn that I’ve come to hate so that I could pop it into the vat. On Wednesday, I added a packet of the Color Remover to a cup of water, dissolved it, and gently stirred it to the indigo vat (a white 5 gallon bucket with a black lid), which was a deep murky green and had a bit of mold growing on the surface. A little mold wasn’t going to stop me and it also didn’t smell awful, so I continued.

I also dissolved a packet of the soda ash in a bucket with about a gallon of water and put this in to scour:

Limely 1

This is Veronik Avery’s Cap Sleeve Henley in Debbie Bliss Prima (80% bamboo, 20% merino); details in my Ravelry project page. Mr. Q bought the yarn for me a few years ago and I should have returned it to the LYS but instead have let it sit in my stash. I don’t have anything against this shade of green (note the cover of the book on the table), but I don’t really like to wear it. Or, at least not so much of it all at once. Here’s what came out of the vat:

notLimely

It’s still a little damp in this picture – the color is even and not blotchy at all. My artsy yarn pr0n shot, taken the next day:

notLimely2

I also soaked 3 skeins of handspun alpaca in water (standard procedure for dying yarn is to thoroughly wet it before putting it in the dye pot). I’d dyed these 3 skeins in the first time go around with the vat, but read that someone found the indigo vat to be even more effective after adding RIT Color Remover. I also thought I’d make the skeins a bit darker; I dipped them twice the first time around and the blue wasn’t as deep as I’d hoped. Here they are, modeled by my sweet helper-dog, the aforementioned Lily:

alpacaYarnz

I’m not sure what else I have around the house that I want to dye with indigo. Anyone local is welcome to come over and use the vat; I even have an extra box of Color Remover & some left-over soda ash.

The best part of dying with indigo is watching things go from an unreal phosphorescent green (similar to my original sweater above but with more oomph) to the final indigo blue. Blue and green are my favorite colors and there were so many shades that green-blue and blue-green and teal that I wish I could make permanent. I have a feeling that I’ll only get those shades with acid dyes, but I’m having more fun being surprised with what I get with natural dyes.

Links to reliable info on indigo:

http://www.aurorasilk.com/info/indigo_tutorial.shtml

Info on indigo and woad from Maiwa

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Author: madgeface

I knit, crochet, spin, and have done some experimenting with weaving and natural dye. I’m also a technical writer, mom to 3 boys, and enjoy gardening.

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