NZ Gardener - Gifts from the Gardens - - Crafts -

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.

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