November 10, 2005

Mood Indigo-part 3

Note from Steph: No baby yet, though it is getting harder to remember that a watched uterus never contracts. The baby will come when it is finished and there is nothing we can do to rush it. Go on about your business. (Buy that? Oh. Teresa didn't either.)
We did get the cover of the book shot yesterday, though who knows what they will use or do. The suspense is killing me (but I didn't kill Adam.)
The That Laurie Guest Blog continues....

Mood Indigo
“The vat must be reduced (the air removed) and turned to "indigo white" which is actually a sort of chartreuse green. To do this, add Sodium Hydrosulfite (buy Rit Color Remover from the grocery store or a craft store -- it has a definite shelf life so look for the expiration date) at the rate of 1/2 teaspoon/gallon of dye liquid. Stir gently (remember not to get more air in the vat at this point). It might take another hour, you will see the vat change color.”
Well, we added the requisite amount of RIT dye remover and it took about 2 seconds for the vat to change color. I would not have called it chartreuse green, but then I have never been 100% sure what color “chartreuse” was. My guess is that the most important thing is that the color of the vat change. The first time, the change was dramatic and the liquid really did turn a much lighter green.
When I did my second indigo vat more recently with the leaves that had grown back from the first harvest, both the vat itself was much darker and the “transformed” vat, though definitely changed in color, was much darker.
In any case, we were very excited when we carefully put our pre-soaked yarn into the vat now perched permanently above the hot water in the dye pot because the heat must stay in the 110 to 130 range.


We also inverted another plastic tub on TOP of the indigo vat to keep the heat from escaping. After all it was getting a bit late in the evening by then, and Maine gets cool of an evening, even during the summer.

When we unveiled the pot, we had very positive indications that the process had worked:


See the blue tinting the top? We tried to dye too much wool, and some of it did NOT stay under the surface of the liquid. Supposedly, the yarn stays below, and you can swoosh it around. But, having spent all almost all day wrestling the vat into submission, we wanted to dye a LOT. In terms of the weight, we should have been fine – 28 ounces of leaves for 2 100-gram skeins of dye-your-own sock merino from KnitPicks. I am convinced it was volume of the liquid, not the vat itself that lead to somewhat mottled skeins.
Anyway, we got the Indigo magic!! Just watch:


See the color spread up the skein as it hits the air? And it gets darker! Like this:


Now one skein was considerably darker than the other. The one I kept was less dark then the skein above and had number white splotches, both where the ties on the yarn blocked the dye and the absorption of the vat was not as good. Mine was the skein on top, and I knew I could overdye it with the next indigo vat. Which is exactly what I did.
In the next vat, I also did a very small skein of bright white polwarth handspun all by itself first. It FULLY submerged and changed color even faster and more fully than the skeins above:


Tomorrow – results and lessons learned!

Posted by Stephanie at November 10, 2005 11:40 AM