Thursday, June 5, 2014

Indigo Dyeing

Last month Debbie from Ziraldo Alpacas and I gave indigo dyeing a try.  It was a full day of fun!

The morning was spent making up our dye stock and skeining and soaking our wool and alpaca yarns and fiber.  Preparing the dye stock is a lengthy process with lots of waiting time in between each step.

Once the dye was ready to work with and our dye pots brought up to temperature, in went the yarns. Yes, they really did look lime green which is concerning when you know indigo is blue!!

Next in was some beautiful alpaca fiber

Here it is turning green!

We let our yarns sit in the dye pot for about 15 mins before removing them.  The instructions were very clear about handling the dye pots in such a way that very little oxygen was put into the water as this would deactivate the dye.

The skein above is ready to come out of the dye pot even though it is still green.  Watch in the following pictures what happens as the skein is pulled out of the water and into the air.  Magic!

In a matter of seconds, the colour turns from bright green to a wonderful blue as the oxygen in the air hits the yarn!  We didn't find too much difference in the shade of blue when we compared the white wool and white alpaca yarns.  Debbie dyed some fawn coloured alpaca and I overdyed this skein of Patons Classic Wool that I had previously dyed with Marigolds or onion skins. These skeins came out a darker blue. You can see the results of this overdyed skein in the last picture.  It's the skein on the bottom right.  There is still some gold showing through in places but that is the fun and beauty of dyeing your own yarns!
We also experimented with 2 different pots.  One was stainless steel and the other aluminum.  One we kept on a camping stove to maintain even heat and the other sat without a heat source and again there wasn't too much difference in the yarns that came out of either pot. 
My only word of caution when doing this dyeing is to wear gloves and a mask through the whole procedure and work in a well ventilated area as there are strong chemicals involved.  We did this dyeing at Debbie's farm so we were able to work outside in the barn. 
Below is my finished wool skeins from the day and Debbie had a tray as well filled with her alpaca skeins.   We had the odd skein  come out of that wasn't perfect and may need to be redyed but overall I think our dyeing was a huge success and I would definitely do this again!

I have one more skein that I dyed that I haven't shown you here.  I'll show that one to you in the next post.  It looks totally different than the rest. 


Mereknits said...

The yarn is beautiful and that is so fascinating that it changes to indigo when the oxygen hits it.

Frieda said...

Your yarn looks just awesome ! It's so interesting to see how it's done .

Minding My Own Stitches said...

What a beautiful colour!