After the release of The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar, we have been diving into natural dyeing projects with both local foraged materials and indigo.
Her book is an informative how-to guide that covers all the basics of dyeing through a series of 20 beautiful projects. Paired with Kristine’s kits, you can create smaller projects from a hand knit chunky hat to indigo dyed bandanas. Larger projects covered in her book include a beautiful resist-dyed linen dress and a clamp-dyed quilt.nido’s resident dyer, Megan, picked up a Waves Bandana Indigo Dye Kit to give indigo dyeing a try. She loved working with indigo for the first time and has given us a full review of her process. Thanks, Megan!
First, Megan reviewed and weighed out all her ingredients to create the “mother,” a highly concentrated indigo solution. If you have a kitchen or postal scale, now is the time to dust it off.Tip: Megan suggests reviewing all kit components, as there are multiple amounts of the same materials used for different steps of the dyeing process. For instance, there are packets of sodium hydrosulphite that are used for both adjusting the pH of the vat and also for creating the mother.
To note: any dyeing pots or supplies should ONLY be used for dyeing. Lye is an integral part of dyeing with indigo, but is also very potent and dangerous. Do dyeing outside if possible. Protective dust mask , eye protection, and gloves are recommended. Megan used her own elbow-length gloves she purchased at a local grocery store instead of the included wrist-length gloves in the kit, to keep herself squeaky clean.
Next, came the Scouring, or prewashing. This step helps achieve and retain desired saturated colors by removing oils present in the yarn, for example lanolin in wool. This is done with heat and a mild dish washing detergent with a neutral pH for protein-based goods or soda ash for plant-based goods.
Now, time to make the vat. The bandana kit includes materials to make your very own indigo vat. Megan used water to dilute the mother in a separate vessel and then adjusted the PH.The moment you have been waiting for, time to dye that bandana! Megan used resist-dye and dip-dye techniques to create two beautiful bandanas. She recommends using all those fun tie-dye techniques here! Indigo penetrates the fabric well, so tie that thread tight to achieve those bright white contrast designs. Megan had plenty of dye remaining after her 2 bandanas that she also dyed 300g of yarn! We love how her Quince & Co. Chickadee Bare yarn and reclaimed yarns turned out. After a great day of dyeing, Megan kept the mother, which will last up to two more months, and looks forward to more dyeing adventures. With plenty of dye remaining for projects beyond the bandana, there are a few materials Megan suggests picking up to continue the dyeing fun. PH strips, sodium hydroxide (lemon juice would be a good sub) or soda ash are all necessary ingredients for more projects, but are very easy to source.
Thanks Megan for the great tips and for sharing your dyed creations!
A Verb for Keeping Warm natural dyeing kits and The Modern Natural Dyer book are in the shop, ready for your dyeing adventures!