May 12, 2018

Till the Dye Runs Clear

     Once there was a handspinner who went to an indigo dye workshop, and came home and applied what she learned to some wool.  But the indigo rubbed off on skin and spindle.
     You don't want indigo to be rubbing off on your skin and turning your hands blue.
     Off into the reference book and cyberspace went the handspinner in search of a solution.  Into some very hot water and Synthrapol went the rest of the wool.  Many, many basins of wash water later, the handspinner resolved not to dye any more wool with indigo.  Even though the colour was so very, very beautiful, it just wasn't working out.  When the roving dried out, it was so felted, it could not be spun.  Again, not good.
     Now, linen or cotton cloth, I would still dye that with indigo because it can go in the washing machine with Synthrapol.  It is possible to take wool fabric, full it, dye it, and full it again in the washer, but the amount of washing I went through would probably push the fabric past the useable point.
     I recently interviewed a few shepherds and posted the videos on YouTube.  In one interview near the end, Kim Harrison talks about fulling her handwoven fabric from her flock.

     Dyers accept that some natural dyes are not colourfast, but almost everyone else in the Western World expects all dyes should be colourfast, whether natural and synthetic.
     You may be wondering why I got blindsided by that much crocking.  The answer is, the original rinse water was pretty clear.  However, that was washing with regular dish soap and that wasn't good enough.  I just didn't know.
     I've read in a couple of places that indigo crocking is a result of improper dyeing.  I followed the recipe properly.  I have also followed the recipe for a fructose vat and hardly got any colour.  Perhaps I need new fructose.  That problem, as the French say, is another pair of sleeves.  Indigo has that variable ratio reinforcement thing going, it keeps you engaged.

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