Cool blue

Author Ange Sewell

As with all things yarn related, I do occasionally mutter the words “I’ll never do ….. as it’s too faffy!” These things have fallen by the wayside, such as I’ll never get a spinning wheel and then a few months later owning my own.
Another one of these is I’ll never try natural dyes. So, today I made my first natural dye indigo bath.
Indigo baths have always intrigued me as its much more of a chemistry style experiment than using acid dyes. The big bit that has really made me want to try it is that the yarn goes into a yellowy green dye bath, making the yarn that colour, but when it is exposed to air it turns blue! Magical stuff.
My current project is based in the sky and clouds and therefore has lots of hues of blue in it, perfect for playing about with indigo. After some helpful advice from DT Crafts I ordered up their indigo/woad kit, as well as some other bits, and finally got around to getting the bath started this afternoon.
I used a mix of New Lanark Aran skeins, some 4ply wool stuff and some cotton and prepped them in different ways. The 4ply and cotton I either chained or put big knots in. Some of the Aran skeins I tied strips of carrier bags at random intervals, and the rest I decided to try a gradual dye.

Some Aran prepped for dyeing
The next stage was to setup the dyebath/vat. This was where my love for chemistry practicals kicked in. There’s measuring of powders, liquids, gentle stirring to not let air in, and keeping it at a stable temperature. All this whilst wearing dust masks, apron and gloves and managing not to scare the child when he came back from judo.
Miraculously, it seemed to work and it was time to put the yarn in.

yarn in indigo vat
You can see the yarn looks all nice and yellowy green in colour. The skein hanging off the side was the dip dyed one. After a while I took that out a bit more and magic started to happen.

it's going blue
I left it all a bit longer than I wanted to and then took it all out, and that’s when it got really cool as it all went blue!