Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Indigo Dyeing

I think as much as I love knitting , I love the process of  dreaming and planning , searching and buying the ingredients that makes the garment. I have quite a few kits like that in my knitting studio. Never mind that in time I might change the initial purpose and will shuffle those ingredients to make a new more covetable piece. At times I will see-covet-purchase the wool first and continue from there onward with the help of ravelry.

Here is the story of my Deco to be-
When Kate Davies published the pattern I took mental note, time passed, other things were knitted and then on my trip to Rhinbeck and NYC last year my dear friend happen to wear hers on. This photo does not do justice to the colour and look ,we all fell head over heels for this cardigan.Things started to roll on..
The pattern calls for a thick 4 ply yarn and I really liked the feel of my friend's cardi -real wool, firm yet soft so decided to purchase the original pure corriedale 4 ply by Blacker Yarns . Next thing was the colour, although I liked that gorgeous olive colour I took a brave step. I purchased ( half price hooray !) 6 balls of the undyed material.
Indigo dyeing is something I was planning to try for years , I bought some stuff in Marrakesh spices market and my talented friend Elseline gifted me a kit so last weekend when all my world turn white with snow it was the perfect time to experiment . 

I've used indigo (and some woad) in a dry natural extract powdered form. The wool was let to have a good soak in water with a drop of washing up liquid- you really want to let out the air pockets in the fibres.

The active ingredient in indigo and woad - 'indican' is insoluble in water so in order to dissolve it in water the recipe uses alkali -sodium carbonate. After vigorous mixing for few minutes I got a dark blue paste (photo above). I used 12 grams of indigo and 4 grams of woad to dye my 300 grams of dry wool.
For the process to happen the amount of oxygen in the vat's water must be minimal. An oxygent reducing agent -thiourea dioxide helps to minimise it. You introduce it to the vat when it is reaching 40-50 c and maintain this temperature. Stirring should be ever so gentle as to not cause more oxygen in the air getting into the vat. The yarn should be fully immersed in the water.

So you cook it for 45-60 minutes and the water should be yellow-green (photo above).If not add reducing agent , if it turns yellow you will need to stir the water a bit to introduce more oxygen. Then gently you scoop the greenish yarn ( don't let the water drip back to the vat !) and immerse in warm water then leave outside for half an hour and . The yarn almost immediately will turn into a majestic blue. Then rinse with some water and a dash of white vinegar and then again with water that a gentle pH neutral washing liquid.

I've immersed it again to correct some faded spots and to achieve a deeper , saturated blue and this is the result..

I tell you ,once you do it and get a hang of what's going on, this is really a quick way to achieve a beautiful, variegated attractive blue tones. My skeins are truly beautiful and I feel very smug indeed :)

My project bag in the New York theme was hand made and gifted to me by Elseline as well. Isn't it just lovely?

This stunning grosgrain ribbon was bought in New york to remind me of the trip. I think I have found the perfect place to stitch it on..
Its all coming nicely together . There is still the buttons issue and oh yes the small matter of casting on...




  1. Really look forward to seeing this, the wool looks beautiful and the pattern is also lovely - bound to be a winner!

  2. The dyeing process sounds so interesting. I have done lots of dyeing but not with indigo. Love the finished colour!

  3. That looks awesome, Ilana:) the colour is great. So pleased you had so much fun.

  4. I have just started dyeing fairly recently and am now hooked! Seeing this post really makes me want to try dyeing with indigo ...your blue is gorgeous.

    Looking forward to seeing your Deco. I have had my eye on that one for ages, as well!