This is the third summer that some members of our Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers Guild have grown and dyed with Japanese indigo. I have six garbage pails planted with Japanese indigo – 3 plants per pot. This is more than I need but I grow extra for those who have lost their plants due to slugs, deer or other perils. In mid-July five of us gathered to do a dyeing using the vinegar method. We cut the stems just above a node, leaving about two nodes below the cut.
We stripped the leaves from the stems and then cut the leaves into pieces. We covered the leaves with water and added 30 ml of pickling vinegar per litre of water. We ate lunch while the chopped leaves soaked in this mix.
Next we used a hand blender to blend the leaves and vinegar/water mix into a bright green ‘soup’ which had an intensely rich chlorophyll smell.
We lined a strainer with a piece of silk chiffon, strained the ‘soup’ through it into a pot, squeezing well to get the liquid out. The pulp was mixed with more vinegar and water and strained into the pot.
We then added our fibres and fabrics to the pot. One of the joys of Japanese indigo is that no mordanting is needed.
Here are our results. Icelandic fleece from a local sheep, a 55% linen/45% cotton blouse - a very light but lovely seafoam blue - and handwoven silk chiffon which will be the backing for the nuno felted Icelandic fleece.
Raw silk fabric and 80% raw silk with 20% polyester fibre.
Local wool fleece.
Wool rovings, silk hankies around the outside, silk/alpaca blend in the centre (darker than shown in photo), silk chiffon with silk fibre bottom right.