~ Indigo ~
Indigo is made from the leaves of the perennial plant Indigofera tinctoria, though best known for its blue dye colour, the plant is a great herbal remedy and is used to cure flu, migraines and other ailments.
Over the next few weeks we will add a new chapter to our Indigo Journey ~ exploring 3 different kind of Vats, dyeing with homegrown Woad, Exploring Maya Blue and whatever else we can add to this Story!
~To dye a t-shirt black using Indigo alone, can take up to a year of repeat dyeing~
Safety First - Please read through the entire document before starting.
You will find the recipe on the left and detailed explanations below.
- Don’t use the equipment for anything else but dyeing.
- Indigo works well on all natural fibres.
- Once the Vat is made, be careful not to stir in any oxygen. Stirring, taking out and putting in – keep to minimum disturbance.
- Don’t heat above 45 degrees Celsius.
- Never add water to Hydros, it will burn.
- Don’t be alarmed – the piece will come out green, turning blue when exposed to oxygen.
- Once you have understood the technique, Indigo is an easy dye to Master.
Let’s do some dyeing!
Make sure you read through the entire recipe first!
I can dye 2 kg of yarn, 4 T-shirts and 1 Cardigan with only 35g of Indigo. That gives you an idea, how much you will need.
How to dye with Indigo:
Indigo will give you a big range of blues. An Indigo Vat is at its strongest in the beginning. With every dip, the indigo will get less powerful. Start off with your dark blues, dip again and again until you have your desired colour. Then start working on lighter blues.
Read the Important notes Section and keep referring back to it, when in doubt. All the important know how’s are listed there.
No mordant is needed with Indigo. Indigo is a VAT dye and can be kept for an unlimited amount of time – mine is, at the time of writing, 2 years old. There are many different ways of dyeing with Indigo; this kit is using Hydros – creating a Colour remover Vat. Henna & Fructose Dye Kits will follow soon.
15g Indigo, 25g Hydros, 25g Soda Ash
- 9l Cooking Pot or bucket - dedicated to Dyeing only,
- Rubber Gloves
- Spoon or Tongs - dedicated to dyeing only
- 1L Measuring Jug or similar - dedicated to dyeing
How to dye:
- Soak all your yarn/fabric/roving thoroughly.
- Fill your Dye pot/bucket half full with water. Make sure the pot is big enough for the skein/fabric to float freely. If you are using a bucket heat the water to 50 degrees Celsius, then add to bucket.
At 40 degrees, add the dye Liquor:
Preparing the dye Liquor for a 9L Indigo dye Vat
Add Indigo (2-3tsp) to the Measuring Jug, add a little bit of warm water & stir to create a paste. Fill the jug with warm water to about 700ml. Add 2 tsp of Soda Ash and stir until dissolved. Put on your mask sprinkle 2tsp of Hydros over the Indigo Liquor. Now stir very gently. The colour should change to yellow/green and a petrol like sheen should cover the surface, called ‘the flower’. Leave standing for 20 min.
- Add 1 more tsp of Soda Ash and sprinkle 1tsp of Hydros over, stir gently. Let it rest 20min until it has a nice green/yellow colour below the surface and a good flower on top, if not at some more Soda Ash.
- Make sure you wear gloves unless you want blue hands. Add your first item gently to the pot, keep it below the surface, gently moving it around for an even colour. Leave in for 2min up to 20min.
- Slowly remove it, squeezing excess dye out as you go.
- Hang to air for 20min.
- Rinse and hang to dry or repeat if you like it darker.