Monday, March 02, 2015


A week or so ago, I attended another workshop on natural dyeing, this one including indigo. I've been a little obsessed with the idea of dyeing with indigo ever since I read Kay Gardner's post on shibori, a.k.a. resistant dyeing. Not so obsessed to actually try it, but obsessed just the same. At this workshop, we worked only with yarn, but I learned how to dye with indigo, so when the itch must be scratched, I am ready (as soon as I accumulate the necessary equipment and ingredients).

In the previous fiber dyeing workshops I have attended, we mordanted the yarn before dyeing. In this one, we learned a one-pot method whereby the mordant was added to the dye pot. Either way, the yarn must be soaked beforehand. The instructor supplied one-ounce skeins, enough for each of us to have five. (That's a lot of niddy-noddying!)

The first dye batches we did were marigold and cochineal. The former produced a golden mustard color. The latter initially resulted in coral rather than red, probably due to the fact the cochineal was wrapped in cheesecloth; when simply added to the dye bath, it produced a rich red.

Then it was time for the indigo. We had two pots going, one for blank yarn, one for overdyeing some of the already dyed yarn. Indigo is fussy, but magical. The dye bath looks greenish yellow, as does the yarn when first pulled out. But contact with oxygen in the air quickly turns the yarn blue, right before your eyes. If you are not satisfied with the shade of blue, the yarn can go back in the pot repeatedly.

I chose to overdye the coral skein and one of the mustard ones, the latter producing a lovely green.

The instructor also tried dyeing with some turmeric root that is now available at the local food co-op. It produced a pale yellow that I like better than the mustard gold.

Here are the class rsults: indigo on the left, then marigold overdyed with indigo, then cochineal overdyed with indigo, then the two shades obtained from the cochineal, and in the back the marigold.

I had to skidaddle at the end of class for grandma duty. While driving the g'daughter to my house, I told her what I had been doing all morning. Of course, she wanted to dye some yarn, too. So I dug out some blank sock yarn and Kool-Aid, and we dyed our own. Being four, she did not quite get what we were doing, but I hope I am planting seeds for the future.

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