Indigo Dreams

Blue is sort of our family color.  I’m not sure if it is because there are three boys and only girl, but we have a plethora of blue clothes.  That’s great because my favorite color is blue.  I like all shades of blue, from light blue to cobalt blue to navy.  But lately, I have been dreaming about indigo blue-you know, the color that all blue jeans are dyed.

Did you know it comes from a plant?  Every since I read about indigo dyeing a few years ago, I have been thinking about it.  A few weeks ago, the kids learned about indigo dyeing in history.  It really is a very old process and the natural process is not much different these days.  Actually, it is a really fascinating project.  However, I was not really prepared to grow my own indigo plants and then let them ferment for months to produce the dye.  Instead, we bought a kit.

Yes, it says tie dye!  Haha!  I have Never been interested in tie-dyeing, nor have I ever really liked things tie dyed, but this was the easiest kit for dyeing with indigo that I could find.  And who knows?  Maybe I will find my inner 60s love child.

ANYway, I had to wait until the husband was home to do the dyeing because as soon as he saw the kit, he exclaimed that he wanted to to do it too  (I think it was his chemist nature).  Actually,  I was glad that I had his help.  He has more hand strength than I do and did most of the transferring of fabric and yarn from one bucket to another.

First, I mixed up all the stuff in the bucket.

It was all very Macbeth-like.  I had to stir all in one direction while adding the eye of newt and frog brains–just kidding!   Actually, I did have to stir only in one direction while adding all the dye stuffs.  I think it was to minimize splashing.  Indigo dyeing is all about minimizing oxidation (fancy chemical term basically meaning a reaction with oxygen).

After we let it sit for a bit, we had to take off the “flower” from the top. I never saw anything that looked like a flower, but we did scoop off the foam that had risen to the top.  You have to save that, by the way, so you can return it to the bucket when you are done.  It forms a barrier between the dye and the air to prevent more oxidation.

Then, we got to dyeing.  Here’s where the magic of indigo dyeing comes out.  The dye liquid is green.  When you take your stuff out of the bucket, it is green.  See?

But then, as the oxidation occurs, it turns blue.

We dyed lots of fabric and yarn.

We even did a little tie-dyeing for the boys.

It was really fun.  After that first day of dyeing, we covered  the bucket and I did some more fabric the next day.  They turned out a much lighter blue.

My only regret is that I dyed all my linen fabric first and they all turned out to be more or less the same shade.  I had underestimated the power of the dye.  When the kit said it would dye up to 5 pounds, I didn’t realize it meant that all five pounds would be dark blue.  I hoped to have varying shades of blue.  Oh well, that just gives me an excuse to get another kit and try again.  Would anybody like to join me next time?  I promise not to make you tie dye a t-shirt, unless you want to, of course.


Posted on October 24, 2011, in Misc. Crafts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. fun, huh? i need to brew up another dyepot soon.

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