Sunday, January 27, 2008

Yet more about the indigo...

Well, it did referment very quickly after being transfered to one of the larger stock-pots and the extra ingredients and water were added. About an hour and the copper film was thick again. This was around 4:30pm today. I took my dye spoon and gently brushed aside some of the foam and I could see that the liquid was a mostly yellow/greenish color.

So yay! I took the pot outside and carefully removed as much of the copper film as I could and introduced the cotton yarn that I wanted to try dyeing.

The instructions said to let it sit for about 20 - 30 minutes, which I did, but I think it can probably be left for a shorter time than that. By the time it was done, it was starting to get dark (blast shorter days in winter!), so the one picture that I got removing the yarn from the dyebath is too dark to really see the color, but I can tell you, it came out a kind of dark green and very quickly started turning dark blue.

I squeezed out the excess carefully with rubber-gloved hands and set the yarn aside on the grass (I didn't have anywhere to hang it). I put the copper foam back onto the top of the indigo, stirred carefully and recovered the pot with the lid. When I came back outside after taking the pot back into my craft room, the yarn was totally blue. I have it hanging to dry in the extra bathroom shower now. It's a very dark, even-looking, navy blue.

Tomorrow afternoon, I'm going to dye some wool. I'll try to do it earlier in the day if possible so the pictures will be a little better...

Okay... so here's what I did for this dyebath, in case anyone might want to try this out themselves:

4 tbsp pre-reduced indigo (you can, and probably should, use less than that... like maybe 2 tbsp to start with, but that's how much I used), mixed with 2 cups of *non-sudsing* clear ammonia. (I used a large mason jar, but you can probably do this in a dyepot if you like... you're going to need a large dyepot of at least 4-gallons.)

2 packages of yeast with roughly 2 tbsp of sugar stirred into about 1 - 2 cups of warm water (about 100 degrees). This is to activate the yeast and get it working.

After 1 or 2 hours of letting all that sit, mix the yeast with the indigo/ammonia in the dyepot and fill the pot with approximately 3.5 gallons of water, or until there is only about 1.5-2 inches of headspace at the top of the pot.

Stir gently to combine all this stuff and a copper film will probably rise to the top pretty quickly. Let it sit for a little while. Some instructions said as little as 10 minutes are needed, others said overnight. I waited a little more than an hour and it was fine.

After dyeing, if the liquid looks more blue than yellow-green, it needs to sit a while to get the oxygen out again.


La Duchesse said...

You were concerned about the indigo caking on the the yarn. Did you have any trouble with that after all? It looks like you've definitely got your hands full, but that you're getting good results. :)

Rachael said...

It doesn't seem to have caked. But I don't think I'll know for sure until the final rinse. Several of the sites I consulted said that if the indigo solution was too strong or the yarn left in too long, that the indigo would rub off easily, stain skin and bleed into wash water and onto other things. That's what they meant by caking, I think.

Yeah, pretty good results so far I think. I just did some wool. I'll post about that with pictures in a few minutes...