DYEING WITH WOAD
For a soft blue, like old jeans, try this recipe by Canterbury gardener Simone Hindin.
• 218g woad leaves • 50g wool
• 1 teaspoon washing soda • 50g hydrosulphite (dye remover e.g. Run Away)
Crush the woad leaves, cover with boiling water and steep for a half hour. Then strain the liquid and squeeze out the leaves. Add 1 teaspoon washing soda and beat vigorously to oxygenate (we used an electric mixer) until all of the liquid has turned blue and then back to yellow.
Heat liquid to 50°C. It is very important that this temperature is kept even and not allowed to increase above 50°C.
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of hydrosulphite over the still liquid and let sit for half an hour. Do not stir! From now on the mix must be kept as still as possible). The hydrosulphite is removing the oxygen from the liquid – when the dyed wool is later exposed to air, it will change colour.
Prepare the fibre
While the liquid is sitting (still at 50°C) add the fibre to be dyed to a pot or bucket of warm water so that it is thoroughly wetted. It is not necessary to mordant fibre to be dyed with woad or indigo.
Dye the wool
Once the liquid is ready, squeeze the excess water out of the fibre and gently add to the liquid – minimising any agitation of the liquid.
Keeping the temperature at 50°C, leave the fibre in the pot for half an hour. Remove the fibre, minimising agitation of the liquid.
Squeeze excess liquid into a holding pot (not the dye pot!) and rest the fibre in the air for 5-15 minutes. The colour will develop over this time but help it along by teasing the fibre open so that it is all exposed to the air, as this is what causes the colour change.
You can continue to dip and remove the fibre until the depth of colour desired is achieved or the dye bath is exhausted.
If necessary, repeat the final stage of preparing the liquid by sprinkling more hydrosulphite on top of the bath and leaving it half an hour.