Dyeing with Indigo

Design created by stitching

I had a fascinating evening at the Woods Hole Library at an indigo dyeing workshop.  I had never used indigo to dye any of my wool, so I was very excited to learn the process and dye a couple of skeins of my hand spun wool.  Once the evening got underway, I realized that not only was I going to get a chance to learn the indigo dyeing process, but the workshop was also going to teach me Shibori techniques for creating designs on cloth in the process of dyeing them.

The process is a little like “tie dyeing”, but much more involved.  We learned several folding and tying techniques that expose only part of the fabric to the dye and create beautiful designs.  Some of the most intricate designs are created by stitching the fabric (using heavy thread and running stitches) and pulling and pleating the fabric that has been stitched.  Thread can be used to bind the fabric creating circles or lines.  The workshop was only two hours long, so it was merely an introduction to the possibilities of the method. Indigo is the traditional dye used for Shibori, but I can see that other dyes could be used effectively.  I’m interested in trying the technique with some of the lichen dyes that I use on wool.

Packets of the indigo dye (enough for a large bucket and 15 yards of fabric) are available for around $15, so this technique is fairly inexpensive.  Since the dye pot lasts for several days until it is exhausted, It’s a great communal activity.  I ended up with two skeins of lovely light blue yarn and two squares of lovely Shibori designed cloth.  What a fun evening.

Design created by folding


2 thoughts on “Dyeing with Indigo

  1. You'll be interested in the Shibori dyeing techniques; they originated in Japan. You don't have to use indigo (although that is traditional in Japan); we'll have to do it together sometime. I think it would work beautifully with some of the lichen dyes!

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