Natural Dyes – On to a Brighter Blue

I love Blue. I love Indigo Blue. I am sooo a blue jean girl. But my indigos always seemed to stop at the more faded indigo blue that had a dusky tone to it – like I get in slightly worn blue jeans –

– not that great deep blue that you get in the dark blue unwashed blue jeans. I tried doing more dips for longer periods of time in the indigo dye baths but still, after rinsing, I got the same tone of blue in my yarns.

So I experimented.

Typically when dyeing with indigo (see my post of June 13, 2012 in my companion blog “A Polish Granddaughter”) you let the yarn drip/aerate for 20 minutes after each dip. After you have completed the dyeing process you place the yarn in a vinegar rinse to return the yarn to a neutral pH.  So I started wondering what would happen if I pushed it to a neutral pH sooner?  Could I stop the process at a point where I would not lose the deeper blues I was getting out of the pot?

So I filled a container with 50/50 water and vinegar and took a couple of skeins I had been dyeing in the indigo pot, allowed them to aerate just long enough to turn the dark blue I was looking for and then put them in the container with the water and vinegar, completely submerging the yarn.  I left them there for a few minutes while the yarn cooled and then hung them to dry on the rack outside.

You can see that the blue kept its deep dark tones – going almost to a dark royal blue.  It is sooo cool!!

Unfortunately I can’t show you the finished skeins because they sold before I got a chance to photograph them after rinsing and re-skeining!!  They did not lose color during the rinsing.  I am hooked!!  Here is a shot of two more skeins that were dyed using this process.  I love it.

Try it if you are doing indigo dyeing.  I would love to know if you had the same result as I did.  Now I can’t wait until the spring when I can start the indigo pots back up (as you NEED ventilation when indigo dyeing which Northeastern winters don’t always allow) to get some more of these brilliant deep blues. 

Happy dyeing!!

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7 thoughts on “Natural Dyes – On to a Brighter Blue

  1. Danielle says:

    Oh that blue is gorgeous! It looks like the blue I bought to make your shawl out of. Good thinking Shel!

  2. So awesome! Good to hear from you again, too!

    • Shelly R. says:

      We just had so many shows over the summer and regular work got really busy that I was doing production dyeing on my down time – which does not really allow for that thoughtful photo documentation of what you are doing for the blogs. Having multiple dyepots going all weekend and then rinsing and skeining during the weeks was kinda nutty. I am going to try to get posting again now that the summer shows, kid’s football and soccer and Halloween are done. I love seeing all you are doing on your posts. I picked up some tannin at Rhinebeck this year – time to start dyeing cotton!!

      • That is very kind of you. Thank you. How were the shows for you? I went to a couple this fall (as a customer, not a vendor) and saw some great yarn booths. I admit to being intrigued by the idea… Met a lot of artists and dyers alike who said that they do all their best business through the shows and festivals. It looks fun—like a lot of work, but fun. 😀 Are you going to sell online, too?

  3. indiedyer says:

    love, love, love indigo! I’m just about ready to put on a vat on Sunday. I will heed your advice about the earlier vinegar dip. Can’t wait. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Shelly R. says:

    I just picked up more indigo dye at Rhinebeck last month. I have to wait until spring for more indigo dyeing. Seems the family doesn’t have the same appreciation for the compost odor that fills the kitchen from the indigo pot that I have. (HAH!) Let me know if the brighter blue held for your yarns.

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