Sunday, March 6, 2011

Indigo blues

What a fabulous weekend!
It started with beautiful sunny weather, and a viewing of Who Does She Think She Is?, a documentary on women artists and motherhood. 
So much of what was said resonates with me. We have a need to be creative, and also have chosen to be available to meet the needs of our families. So often I feel like by trying to do both, I do neither as well as I should. I would not be the parent I am, without exploring my creative side; I know that in theory, but so often every decision feels like too much compromise. It was supportive and uplifting to hear my thoughts refelcted in the viewpoints of the artists featured in the documentary. An interesting and though provoking start to a weekend in which I planned to dye with Indigo all day- no family plans in there. I did get home and make lunch for everyone...then headed outside to get my hands blue! Balance, balance...

  Materials and the means. I had 30 skeins of yarn and 5 pounds of merino fibre ready and waiting to be dyed, and had made up an indigo stock solution about a week ago. It was keeping warm and lively in the back of a little proofing cupboard we made for sourdough bread. It is an eclectic mix in the proofing cupboard right now- sourdough starter, sprouting date seeds, and indigo stock...a healthy mix of interests there!   
  I use the natural indigo from Maiwa, in Vancouver, and followed their instructions for making the stock and vat. I've been dyeing with indigo for more than 10 years, and almost always use this method. I hope to keep the vat going next time. I dye so much material that the vat is exhausted completely by the time I am finished.
 First dip! The merino wool yarns are taking up the indigo so beautifully. I'm hanging the skeins over an improvised line, and letting the colour run down to the ends a little. These are going to be beautiful tonal hanks of yarn. I want to make a scarf and a short sleeved sweater with the DK merino....I can just picture them...but these are all destined for the shop and FibresWest, in two weeks. Can I justify taking 3-4 skeins to knit up samples to bring to the show? And do I really have time to knit them in two weeks?

I gently push the wool in, trying to introduce as little oxygen into the vat as possible. Then I leave it in for 10-15 minutes for the first dip. I'm pretty impatient to see whats happening though, so I do fidget and pull out the wool now and then!
Second dip on some of the wool- Plus the wool rovings and battings are starting to come out. I also had some "observers" on Sunday- my neighbours chicken kept me company all day, and seemed to enjoy the activity....maybe they like the smell of indigo. 
  Ah! the smell of indigo.....the natural pigments that create the colours, are the same as those that cause rotting things to smell. It is pretty intense....and so I'm working outside.  Keeping the best interests, and desires of my family in mind! See...good parent!  Grin...
Graham commented at one point, while passing through, that I will have to do my indigo dyeing on days when my studio is not open, as this may not make the best first impression on my customers! 
 I don't notice the much...but maybe that's because I don't stick my nose into the pots like the boys do! 
 What a glorious colour. Well worth the effort. This is silk habotai, ready for nuno felting. I did two dips on Saturday, and one on Sunday.
Everything is now hanging or spread out to be fully exposed to the air for 24 hours. Then I'll rinse twice and give it a vinegar bath to restore the PH as the wool likes it.
 It was so peaceful to be outside in the warm air, in the sunshine; just me, the wool, the dye pots, and the chickens. All felt right with the world. And with the family balancing. I was happily engaged, and everyone else was too.
Slow dyeing....lots of preparation...lots of time in between steps to have a cup of tea, a chat, make a meal...go see a documentary...A perfect weekend pace!

Warm wishes,


1 comment:

  1. Lovely scarf, I haven't done any felting for some time, so many distractions. Thank you for following my blog.
    Best wishes.