Good morning! This is Brie again.
Well folks, this business of writing is fatiguing for a sheep like me. A day or so ago I started interviewing the Nice Lady about her trip to Charleston S.C. for an indigo dyeing workshop. I had to stop because it was time to eat. As we all know that is one very important job! Anyway, the Nice Lady kept her promise the next day and let me finish my interview. Hopefully I can finish it off.
Brie: When we were talking yesterday you related how you spent nearly an entire day (Friday) preparing an indigo dye bath from scratch and then dyed a rather small amount of yarn. After all that work I was kinda hoping you would have a picture of the final product. What did you do the next day, Saturday?
Nice Lady: I am sorry that I do not have any pictures of my small amount of dyeing from the first day. I was so exhausted by the end of the day I forgot to take any pictures.
Well Brie, on Saturday we had choices of several varieties of indigo to use for dyeing. (We did not have to pick the leaves and prepare the dyes from scratch!) We created a fructose vat with indigo powder, soda ash and fructose. There was also an organic indigo vat, a South American indigo vat and a special indigo vat for cellulose fibers, such as cotton and linen. Many of the participants were dyeing with what is know as resist dye techniques and many were dyeing fabric rather than yarn.
To dye I had taken 40 skeins of yarn made from your fleeces, but I did not get all of them done. I did dye the 3 weaving warps that I had prepared ahead of time. For those three warps I tied off portions of the warp so that the dye could not reach the yarn, with the result that the yarn was multicolored. I also managed to dye all my handspun skeins. I also had pre-dyed some skeins with cochineal (red) and marigold (yellow), so that I could over-dye them with indigo. Not only did I end up with blue yarn, but also purple and green.
Unfortunately I had soaked all 40 skeins that I took (many of which did not get dyed). I had to bag all of the wet skeins (dyed and undyed) and bring them home wet! My large suitcase weighed 78 pounds. I also had a tote bag to carry on which contained all my dyed (and wet) yarn. It was another 20 pounds. I sort of “slushed” home. I guess I felt a bit like all of you when you get soaked in a downpour. Upon returning home to the farm I did the final processing of the dyed yarn and got all of the skeins dried out. The dyed yarns turned out to be quite beautiful.
I wanted to share with you the weaving that I am currently working on. I am using the multi-shade warp yarns and individual skeins of indigo dyed and indigo over-dyed yarn. When I am finished with the weaving the fabric will be used to make pillows.
B: Nice Lady, was it worthwhile being away from us for all that time?
NL: Yes Brie, the trip was worthwhile. I am now very comfortable with the entire indigo dyeing process. I can now tell with confidence when the dye bath is ready for dyeing (something I was not previous comfortable about). I also learned that fresh indigo is not something I want to grow. I also know that I would enjoy returning to Charleston again, especially at a more leisurely pace. However, I did miss all of you and even the old grumpy guy. So it is good to be home again with just good memories of my trip.
B: Thank you Nice Lady for all this information. It has been fun to hear about your adventure!