We devoted today to dyeing. Early this morning we began by mordanting a pound of yarn for future projects. We simmered the yarn for an hour in an alum mixture, and when dry it will be ready for more dyeing with the plant material we have drying from our dyer's garden.
Next, we moved on to our big task of the day, dyeing with Japanese Indigo or Dyer's Knotweed.
Using fresh leaves from our garden, we heated them in a huge make-shift double-boiler until the water reached 160 degrees. We then strained the leaves and added baking soda to the fluid to make it alkaline. Pouring the liquid back and forth from one container to another allowed the indoxyl to react with the oxygen in the air and change into indigo.
We then added a reducing agent to convert the indigo into a yellowish form to prepare it for dyeing. We added wet yarn and soaked it for 30 minutes.
We gently lifted the yarn out of the dyebath.
And, 'like a miracle' the yarn turned from yellow to blue as it reacted with the oxygen in the air.
Pretty exciting stuff! We also boiled the leaves left over from the indigo production and dyed 4 ozs of mordanted yarn. It turned out very pretty, kind of a gold-khaki color. Will post pictures of it later.