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Second Try, Natural Dye-The Indigo edition, Part 2

You might expect Part 2 to document me using the indigo powder created in Part one. I’m still busy (more than ever) with farm chores and harvesting so I wanted to try the quick & easy (Note: quick & easy is used relatively here) ice water method of dyeing with fresh indigo.

I harvested some indigo on September 21st, filling the same container I filled for Part 1, so I used roughly the same amount of indigo. I was lucky that it was cool and cloudy the day I had an opportunity to undertake this adventure. The plants had regrown considerably and were starting to show flower buds.

Having filled the container, I noticed that I had harvested less than a quarter of the indigo patch! I’m happy to have SO MUCH indigo but overwhelmed by the thought of using it before a killing frost.

I brought the container inside to the basement where I had 4 skeins of yarn soaking and equipment set up to blend the indigo leaves with ice water and strain the puree through mesh to produce the dye vat. I had soaked the yarn in alum mordant the night before.

Pulling the leaves from the stems was a predictably wearisome and time-consuming process. Unfortunately, I had failed to accurately predict how time-consuming.

I eventually reached a level of filtrate that I deemed enough for 4 skeins (4 oz each) of wool (it had been more than enough, so I dyed some t-shirts after the yarn had a couple soaks). I added a couple splashes of vinegar (maybe half a cup) for good measure.

Once I mixed the vinegar in, I moved all 4 skeins of yarn into the vat, one at a time. The yarn turned a deep sage green almost immediately.

I had several stems harvested but unused in this process, so I laid them out to dry. Perhaps we’ll have another installment attempting to create a dye from the dried leaves. I have fingers crossed that this will be a reasonable and productive process as the indigo garden still has SO MUCH to be harvested and we could get a frost in the next couple of weeks!

I left them sitting for some hours before pressing out the liquid and hanging them to dry. While I was thrilled by the green color, which had been my goal with the Rudbeckia (as the 3 readers of that might recall), I was even more excited and curious to see them turn an indigo color with exposure to the air.

They did not turn blue. I did end up with something close to the sage green (albeit blue-ish) I was hoping for with the Rudbeckia dye experiment (See Natural Dye, First Try).

Once the yarn had dried, I rinsed it, poured off the green water and repeated. The third rinse produced the same green runoff, so I was not feeling satisfied with the colorfastness of this process. In the end, after multiple rinses the final color held up, and I like the color.

A skein of the undyed yarn surrounded by 4 skeins I dyed in this process.

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