Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spinning and then.....DYEING!!!

Spinning Camp was really intense. It seemed like every few minutes Judith would say, "Do you want me to show you _______?" Are you kidding me? YES! But the brain got fried pretty early on. Most of the time I felt like I was playing catch up but NO ONE was willing to slow down. We wanted it all and right now. It's exhausting but exhilarating as well. There is just so much to take in and learn. But on Friday we started dyeing fiber. We had a blast. The dyes of choice this time around were all natural.

Indigo comes from a plant. Woad was also used as blue dye but there is no other blue like indigo. It's what colors our blue jeans. There is a synthetic but we used the real stuff.

Cochineal is a BUG that grows on prickly pear cactus. It is actually used in foodstuffs as a safe red dye. And lichen is all over. We picked up branches around the camp and then harvested all the lichen we could. We tried ball moss but it was pretty much a dud. The fiber just got a teeny bit tannish. We also used Osage but I did not get a photo of it before it went into the pot.

First let's look at indigo!

Remove the Oxygen

Indigo will not dye in the presence of oxygen so you have to take it out of the water. We used Rit Whitener. I cannot remember the chemical involved. While the huge trash can of water sat losing oxygen Judith mixed up the indigo in a jar.
Test the dye

Carefully add the dye

 The dye must be introduced slowly so as little oxygen as possible gets into the dye pot. Amazing that it does not look blue at this point!

Dye disperses

Still spreading
Ready for fiber
Fiber in
Fiber out
One does not just toss fiber into the pot. First it has to be soaked, preferably overnight, so that it is well saturated. The hanks must be very loosely tied so as to not have undyed areas. Even at that it will likely need to be retied in another place and dyed again.

The bluer you want it the longer it must stay in the dye. And when fiber first comes out it is pale green!! What a surprise. oxygen is reintroduced and it begins to turn blue! It's magical to watch it happen!

Kim Dyed Silk
Judith told us that one must be careful when indigo dyeing. If not everything you own might end up blue! You just keep wanting to see it happen one more time. This was just the first day. We did more, lots more. Jackets, shawls, sweaters, shirts, robes and more and more fiber. Some tried twisting and leaving white areas. One even did a little shibori.

Dinner after Indigo

Judith was blue for the rest of the camping week!



  1. These posts are amazing! You could not have told the story so well with the old POTD format. I am a convert to the blog!

  2. OK, the dinner should have been blue....think octopus in ink, jello, blueberry cobbler....
    :-) TRC

  3. and blue tortilla chips instead of white bread!