Although autumn is drawing in, today was a delightfully sunny day. Emma was at school and Lucy was having a seriously sleepy morning, so I decided to grab my gloves and do a spot of indigo dyeing in the garden.
I used to do a lot of indigo work, but haven't had a chance to get my vat organised since moving into this house. Indigo is insoluble and needs to be chemically reduced in a vat before it can be used for dyeing. You can create a permanent "living" vat which can remain in use for years. Or you can use chemicals to create the same effect - which is what I used this time.
The indigo is mixed into a paste, and carefully added to the vat without introducing any oxygen.
I had some undyed merino fibre, and also some local Wallingford Wool from Wool and Willow. I soaked them in water before dyeing. I dipped the merino fibre first, just for a few minutes, but I kept it quite screwed up to create a mottled effect which will look lovey when it is spun.
I wanted a stronger colour on the yarn, so suspended the skeins and dipped section by section in the vat which created a semi-solid effect.
When you first pull the yarn out of the indigo, it is like nothing has changed. Then it goes through this amazing colour transition from yellow to green to blue as it oxidizes in the air. It is wonderful to watch - I should video it some time!
I rinsed (and rinsed... and rinsed... and rinsed... oh I hate rinsing!) I then washed them in Woolishous which I got from Flufftastic. It is my absolute favourite wool wash - smells heavenly and leaves yarn really soft. Here they are, drying in the sunshine.
And later on, nice and dry.
I really must make more time for dyeing - it was such a lovely morning!