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Indigo – 2nd attempt

May 20, 2010

I have had Indigo on the brain and I decided to try a quicker method than the fermentation vat I did last summer.  After almost a day of reading including checking out Jenny Dean’s book from the library I made a stock solution.   One of the web-pages I checked out was Damselfy’s Delights as Louisa had taken a workshop last fall in woad dyeing at the Maiwa Symposium and writtten up a great review.    The process is the same when working with indigo powder.

There are so many recipes out there I was getting very confused.   I have Thiourea Dioxide – one recipe used it with soda ash, another with lye.  Lye is not available in the grocery store any more, though I can get  by mail-order, but I didn’t want to wait.  Thiourea Dioxide has many names, one recipe used one at the beginning, but then called it another name later in the recipe.  Were they using the same stuff or a different chemical.  On and on, round and round.  Finally I began to try get a better handle on what is actually happening in an Indigo Vat instead of just following directions.

My understanding is that the process involves dissolving the Indigo, creating an alkaline bath and removing oxygen from the vat before  dyeing. There are tempuratures to be observed and Ph levels to be checked along the way, but it was the many ways one can do the steps that had my head reelng.     There are so many ways to do any of the steps and all around the world dyers use different ways of achieving the same result.   The two products I had on hand would do,  so I have made a stock solution and tested it on a little bit of silk yarn.   It worked.

What an amazing reaction!  The web-[pages and blogs I have read say it is amazing and they are all right!  It is magical and  once I finish the shibori scarf and sample I know I will want to do more and more!

Now I can make the larger vat, and actually begin to dye.  That is when the sun comes out again, so I can work outside.     The solution is also a little smelly, but not as high as the fermented vat which I tried last summer.  I might want to give the fermentation another go, just because it uses more easily available and less harsh ingredients.

On other projects I have knit one ball of the crock-pot dyed yarn.  The result is interesting, but still on the sock machine so no pics yet.

The inkle band is slow while I decide on an overall pattern that works with the woven bag.  Perhaps I should do a random pattern, I might get it done.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 20, 2010 1:20 pm

    Oh what a beautiful color, it has so much depth!


  2. May 25, 2010 4:31 pm

    Your indigo results are perfect. I’m jealous that you own a Jenny Dean copy. My friend who owned one just moved to Washington so I’m without until it’s released again the end of this year.


  3. Evelyn Oldroyd permalink
    May 25, 2010 5:04 pm

    not mine – it is from the library! But I am probably the only one taking it out. 😉 What a great book – I might have to have my own copy.


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