Dyeing with Indigo

I’ve recently been exploring natural dyeing methods, and I was really excited when we started carrying a Indigo Dye kit.  What makes indigo dyeing a little tricky is that indigo is not naturally water soluble, and you need water to help the fabric absorb the dye.  So the indigo in this kit is reduced into powder, and when you add it to a bucket of water, it is a yellow green color because the oxygen was removed.  You add wet yarn or fabric to the indigo and hold it in the dye bath for only a couple of minutes.  When you remove the dyed yarn, it is a bright green color and you can watch it turn blue as it comes into contact with oxygen.  I have a more in depth tutorial for dyeing with this Indigo Dye kit here.  

Since I was going to just use one dye color, I wanted to play with resistance designs.  I’m really interested in Ikat and Shibori cloth, and I wanted to make a similar look with my dye blank fabric.  

I folded one dye blank and secured it with wood pieces included in the dye blank, I tied up another dye blank with lots of rubber bands, and I left my last dye blank plain.


Then I soaked my sock blanks in water as I prepared the dye solution.  The reducing agent smelled like a perm but after I mixed up the dye, I put a lid on my bucket to keep oxygen out of the dye bath, and I went into another room.  

After the dye was ready, I squeezed the water and oxygen out of my sock blanks and slowly lowered them one at a time into the indigo dye bath.  You only need to leave the yarn in indigo for 1-3 minutes, and it turns a really intense blue color.  Eventually…

After you remove your yarn from the dye bath, it will be bright green!

Then you can watch it turn blue.  It takes 20 minutes to develop the deep blue color, but you can see the that I dyed the folded sock blank last because it is still green!

Then rinse the sock blanks off and let them dry.  

After I removed the rubber bands and wooden blocks, I could see how my dye blanks turned out!

This was the one with lots of rubber bands:


This was the one that I folded and secured with wooden blocks:

I expected that one to be mostly blue, instead of white.  I was surprised when I unfolded this blank.

And the solid sock blank:

I’m really happy with how this dyeing turned out!  I’m considering weaving a scarf with two of my dye blanks.  Or making a hat with a two color brioche pattern.  I’ll blog again after I finish my project!

Also, I learned that Magic Erasers are AMAZING for getting dye off of bathtubs.  I moved a couple days after my indigo dyeing experiment, and I got my entire deposit back.