Indigo Dyeing during COVID-19

Sometimes, we all need a little bit of normal back in ours lives.

I hosted mini indigo dyeing workshop in my driveway for the Spinning Study Group of Long Island. We even had a Google Meet open so people could attend remotely since I limited the number of attendees.

We used my existing indigo vat. I use the 1-2-3 or fructose and pickling lime recipe from Botanical Colors.

The first step was to restart or rebalance the vat after hibernation. I find that heating it up to about 100-120 degrees Fahrenheit and adding a heaping teaspoon of pickling lime and a few heaping teaspoons of fructose helps it get going, but the most important element is patience and time. Just let the vat sit for while over heat.

Note that this vat is over 3 years old. The “cover picture” is of the vat when I first mixed it up. There was a lot of foam. Overall, I find the storing and restarting the vat easier to use than mixing up a new one, since among other things I don’t have to scrap off the foam on top and mix it back in, when I’m finished dyeing. So far restarting it back up roughly every 6 months, I’ve gone as long as ignoring it for 8 months, has keep the vat going without issues. Given the high pH level, the vat is pretty much a sterile environment.

It was a fun day and we lucked out on the weather.

It looked like we were doing laundry!

We rebalanced the vat a few times throughout the day, to allow the vat a chance to recover. Meaning we let the vat sit over the heat for a while and let the indigo reduce again from all the air that was introduced, when dyestuffs were placed in the vat.

As you can see, the same indigo vat can be used for a variety of different fibers and preps. We had some wool rovings & yarns, cotton towels and t shirts, and a poly blend dress.

There was also a seasonal cake!

All in all a good day to dye!


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