Saturday, September 25, 2010

Woad Experiments

With fall officially here now I had to get in my last woad dye day before we woke up with frost. Too little spare time on my hands and too many must do projects. I could not put this off. The weather surprised me by not getting the promised rain and storm, so I went ahead with the woad dye.

I harvested all of the first year woad leaves except the new leaves coming in the center of each plant. This will allow the plant to continue into its second year when it will produce the seeds in 2011.

I followed a somewhat different method of preparation as follows:
1. Gather all the leaves of the woad.
2. Drop leaves into very hot water in large pot on stovetop. Add a little lemon juice or vinegar to have it a bit acidic. Hi heat for 3 min., but keep below boiling point. Simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Drain off dye liquor. Leaves can be used to produce other colours from yellows to pinks to orangey colours with addition of alum and cream of tarter.
4. Now the baking soda is added to turn alkaline. Check with ph paper. It should be at 9 or 10. The temp must be kept at 130-140.
5. Using a stick blender aerate dye bath for 10-15 minutes until you see the indigotin is developing.
6. Add the reducing agent. Thiox or Rit colour remover. (hydrogen hydrosulfite). Dissolve it in some hot water, then add to vat.
7. Let sit 1 hour. It must be a yellow colour, even if it is very dark. Ready now for adding the soaked wool. Soak for 10 minutes, then aerate for 10 min. Repeat.
After addition of Thiox. Ready to dye.
8, Rinse the next day. If the colour is a bit greenish, 1 T. vinegar can be added to the last rinse.
Shetland 2 ply. Woad dye. Not rinsed.

Uncarded wool.

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