November 8, 2005
Indigo Adventure: Part One
Note from Steph: There is no baby yet, but there are signs that it won't be long. (Teresa is well, though extraordinarily pissed off, and the babe, while static, is doing very nicely.) In the meantime, I continue to sit in the dungeon, finishing book 3 (it's going fine thanks. Yesterday I got a whole five hours of sleep, finished an entire chapter and only cried once. I'm not even sure why I cried. Too much coffee maybe. Is nineteen cups too much?) and Laurie (That Laurie) steps up to the guest blogger plate. Make her feel at home will ya? (And don't get used to this level of professionalism. It's back to me soon.)
L.I.D -- Laurie’s Indigo Dyeing: Part One
Or rather Laurie TRIES to do indigo dyeing, with the valuable help of her assistant Kristen. We prepared for adventure months before by buying indigo plants at the Maine Fiber Frolic. We will draw a discrete veil over attempt one in which we clipped the tips of the plants in the two flats of six I brought back and planted in my garden. Trying to dye using too few indigo leaves that are themselves too young does not work. Let us leave it at that. However, by mid-July, we had enough indigo (note to self: do not plant the indigo so close to the basil plants next time. See the basil in the lower corner of the picture? Fortunately Indigo leaves are a lot flatter than this species of basil!):
Even more important, telltale water droplets had marred a few leaves revealing this:
See the blue?? Definite blue. There was lots of indigo; the plants were mature enough; we were ready to go! We used the information from this site , but we also discovered some things on our own. Kristin and I settled in for LONG day of dyeing. Little did we know HOW long!
We picked about 28 ounces of indigo leaves – observe the harvest. The leaves are in the jars to be heated and the remainder stems are in one of our many bowls:
Just following instructions: “Strip the leaves from stalks and cram them into a gallon glass jar (or a plastic bucket or a stainless steel or enamel pot -- any non-reactive container). Fill the jar with water and place it in another pot on a trivet or some jar lids (you are creating a double boiler).” Here are the jars in their double boiler:
So far so good, right? Just you wait!!
Posted by Stephanie at November 8, 2005 9:13 AM
Cool how the leaf turned blue when it was damaged!
Theresa's baby is waiting for snow - can't be using a snowflake shawl if there's no snow.
I can't! I can't wait for the rest of the indigo frolic! Just this bit has gotten me all excited about making forays into dying.
Oh my gosh, you guys are such teases! I want to know how the dying turns out. Sad.
You have *got* to love instructions that say "...cram them into a..."
And I agree with above, y'all are teases!
Wow!! You guys are really adventurous!! Talk about dying the real way! Growing your own plants and everything. Can't wait to see how this turns out!
Ooooh! I can't wait to see how this turns out!
Yep, that's a tease. And I agree, the baby's waiting for snow so the shawl is appropriate. Unfortunately for Teresan, none is heading Toronto's way.
These posts on indigo dyeing are perfect for me, so thanks! I've got a SIL willing to plant WHATEVER I want to use for dyeing. Indigo is already on the list. So is madder. Any other suggestions, Laurie?
More, more, MORE. I need plants. Where can I buy plants?
Welcome, guest blogger Laurie! I know nothing about dying, so I'm looking forward to following your adventure - and ditto Kerry, I love the picture of how the leaf turned blue.
No, 19 cups is not too much. Couldn't have been the coffee. Must have been the dungeon -- not enough sunlight. Good luck.
Welcome, Laurie. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the indigo tale. I've dyed with indigo in the past and it's a magical process, once you get the vat going, that is. The most adventurous I've been was to have a natural fermentation vat, not the chemical vat. Extra special. Does take time, though, doesn't it?
Wait, wait -- if indigo will grow in Maine, why all those slaves on tropical islands? We could GROW indigo?
oooh...very exciting, I love DIY from the top projects. Definately sounds like a lot of fun to be responsible for the whole process. Cannot wait to see more!
-and Snowflake, stop torturing your mother and let us see you wrapped in the beautiful shawl!
wonderful. more lessons please.
WOW!! Too cool! I want to see how the dyeing comes out! I can't wait! (Yep, just call me greedy and impatient, mea culpa).
Hey - nobody said this was going to be a cliff hanger Laurie! No Fair! Granted my interest in dying is completely voyueristic at this point but c'mon, to leave us hanging like that? Very cool about the blue water spots on the leaf though. I never knew it would do that.
Oh, and Steph - 19 cups of coffee may have been just that one too many. But if Teresa decides to co-operate with your schedule this week, I've been told I give a really good shoulder rub. Just sayin'.
Hey, enough of this talk about "dying". It's a totally different process to "dyeing".
10 out of 10 for fearlessness! Indigo intimidates me ... anything that traditionally uses fermentation *and* urine has me happily paying for pre-dyed yarn. (Or happily getting vicarious kicks from your experiment.)
Lucky me to have this subject come up when I am getting ready to attempt some dyeing of my own! I, too, agree with the "tease" title. Gimme more!
1. I bet indigo wouldn't have grown in Maine pre-global warming. Not that that justifies the slaves used to cultivate it elsewhere, but it did take some bang-up HOT weather to get the wee green things to grow properly.
2. I know how the story turns out. But I'm not telling.
3. If anyone reading this could tell me the proper pronunciation of "Dalhousie" (as in university, as in Halifax), I'd be grateful. You can e-mail me via the link from my name.
The long-range forecast for Toronto predicts a chance of snow on Thursday. Snow is something that pisses ME off but I will pray for snow for Teresa.
I *love* indigo dyeing! Note that this is Japanese indigo (dyer's knotweed) which grows in Fairbanks, but won't get all the way to flowers here during the growing season.
Other favorites: dyer's coreopsis (rust), dyer's chamomile (yellow), rudbeckia (greens), black hollyhocks (grey, purple, greenish). Madder won't overwinter here, but I bought some roots to try out.
Urine? so, what - have you been collecting pee?
Teases, all of you.
Hey, nothing like "chamber lye" to cut the grease in that fleece. You'd gather it in a large [covered] jar on the mantle and let the solids settle out; what you pour off is "chamber lye." Supposed to be best gathered from children and men who'd had too much to drink (a theory propounded by a man who liked to drink too much, I figure.) The above courtesy of Norman Kennedy, who used to be head of textiles at Colonial Williamsburg.
Me, I'll take Lemon Joy.
I dont' know.... for some reason I highly suspect (considering who the experimenter is) that it turned out quite well. ;-)
So, is it too late in the season for me to try again? There are still healthy leaves on my plants. I need to bring some in in pots to force to flower so I can collect some seeds. I need to get this one right. Thanks, Laurie!
I think if I were to have 19 cups of coffee I'd be pretty wired. I'd probably be doing things like writing emails to people at 1am.
I am laurie's FFYDS-PSO (Fabric, Fleece, Yarn, Dyeing, Stash - Patient Significant Other) and write to assure all that she is not by nature a tease -- although she is fond of a dramatic narrative. The entire article is in Stephanie's control and we must assume that she is spreading it out over as many days as she can so she can spend as much time in the dungeon as possible producing B3. So you must all stand on the dock waiting to hear the next installment, but you can't blame Laurie as she's not in charge of distribution and you shouldn't blame Steph 'cause she's milking it to save whatever shreds of sanity she retains. (Remember she's undoubtedly got christmas knitting going on too!)
So does anyone else find the juxtaposition of comments re: '19 cups of coffe' and 'urine collection' funny. Just askin'.
Ah ha! We have drawn even my DH out of lurkdom! Answers to a couple of questions/comments. Julia, if you still have leaves, go for it. I did a final batch JUST before the first real freeze here; the color was pale, but I did not have a lot of leaves to work with!
Also, on bringing indigo inside in pots -- as it turns out (thanks to info at Maine's Common Ground Fair), you can cut off shoots, put them in water, and expose them to sunny window. They root in the water, and (supposedly) can keep going long enough to go to seed. I will keep you posted on this one since I have four separate jars of such stems all around the house. They have indeed got "water roots," but it is too soon to tell whether they will produce actual seeds (all have FLOWERS on them, mind you!). So Julia, you can try THAT as well!! I will keep you posted.
I never knew what an indigo plant looked like. Very informative. And OH SO SUSPENSEFUL!
Looks like canning. Can't wait for the next installment!
Rams, you are a veritable font of icky knowledge...
Rather off topic, I must talk about the new book. I'm about two thirds of the way through and Stephanie, you have gone from being the best knitting blogger (who happens to have written a book) to being my VERY FAVORITE KNITTING WRITER!! I have laughed, I have cried, again. Looking forward with great anticipation to book 3 and congratulations!!
eeeewwwwwwwwwwww. interesting. hmmmmmmm. so, what happens next?
i was in south america long ago, in bolivia, and saw 'cochenille' ... sp? ........ wow .... little fuzzy bugs that smashed into beautiful shades of bloooody red!
Teresa's baby is OBVIOUSLY aware that it would be rude for it to be born before MY baby is born. I am now 8 days overdue. So if my labor "augmentation" goes well tomorrow maybe Teresa's baby can be born soon.
All this talk of urine brings to mind Neal Stephenson's trilogy, the Baroque Cycle, where they'd collect urine from miles around and boil it up to make phosphorus. Amazing, what you can do with urine.
I think it's adventurous to make any color dye on a white stove. But then, maybe i'm just messy...
Reads like a Elizabeth George thriller. Only better. Next chapter please !
maybe you should go to this website?
You enter your weight and it tells you how much of your favorite caffinated beverage you would have to drink before it kills you. You know, just in case.