It's that time of the year. Every year around this time I get the urge to crochet. I plan holiday gifts, things for around the house I would have other wise bought and so on. I think it's the faux autumn nip in the air that does it.
I love using natural dyes as pigments and I'm playing around with a few new ideas I haven't seen before. I'll keep you updated on those if they turn out (just remind me if you get sick of waiting)!
For this lot, I decided to go with my tried and true indigo. Indigo is an awesome pigment. I see I used in everything from soap to fabric. I personally keep it's use for the purpose of dying things, as there is quite an abundance of natural, zero Waste options for other things. Here's where I get mine:
Natural Indigo Powder https://www.brambleberry.com/Natural-Indigo-Powder-P5727.aspx
First, what I like to do is buy Yarn in BULK. I mainly buy plain, unbleached cotton yarn. Always a pain to untangle but worth it for the price saving and the lesser environmental impact. To prove I'm not perfect, I used to only buy acrylic Yarn... while at least it's vegan (which means DRASTICALLY less waste than non-vegan yarns), it is not great for the environment. Mainly I just use it plain. Sometimes, especially for gifts, dying is just so fun!
Second, I prewash my Yarn. Just to make sure there is nothing lingering that could prevent dye from really getting a good stain. I do this by hand washing. Best of luck if you decide to put a ball of yarn in the washing machine. I really do not recommend it. One of those things I didn't have to learn from experience.
Third, salt! I can not stress this enough. Salt really helps your dye 'soak' into your Yarn. This could also leave it feeling a bit softer as well. For one whole ball of yarn, I plan on around a gallon of water (I wouldn't use grey water but cleansed rain water does the trick) and around a cup of salt. Make sure it dissolves. I keep my salt bath warm for the next part.
Fourth, add your indigo! Mix it WELL. Indigo doesn't like to play with others. If you feel like it's really not incorporating, try adding a bit more salt or mixing your indigo in warm water before adding to the salt bath.
Five, add your yarn. Unravel and add it right in. Let it soak for as long as you want. I have forgotten mine outside and let it dye for about a week before with no issues. I wouldn't recommend that but it's the truth none the less. In the first day, be sure to stir it sometimes. Just to make sure any bits of floating Yarn still get pigment.
Quick color test is pretty easy if you have fabric you don't mind dying. Grab a piece of yarn (not with your hands... unless you like that kind of blue-fingered, asphyxiation/Undead look) and press into your soon to be dyed fabric. If the yarn comes off lighter, it either hasn't been long enough or it is just a lighter color. I test until my yarn comes out the same color, just drier *obviously*.
Six, hand wash AGAIN. Yup yup. Wash wash wash. Use soap. You can even follow up with a vinegar rinse. They say it makes it softer. I don't. I feel like the salt bath does plenty. Wash until it's completely clear water. Don't risk the pigment coming off some poor gift-reciever!
Seven, THROUGHLY dry. I string mine out on the line and let it dry. If you have any sneaky moist spots, I bet it won't end well. The WORST smell ever is that didn't-get-quite-dry smell.
As always, be careful and enjoy! Allergy test before you touch anything new and patch test to be sure you like it. On labels for gifts, it would be a good idea to say 'indigo dyed', just to be safe.
Love and all the pretty things,
The Smart Girl in Pants
The Smart Girl in Pants