I tried woad for the first time today. It is the same pigment as indigo but woad (rhymes with “toad”) grows in temperate climates. Maybe you have seen those blue shutters on buildings in France and traditionally that was woad that made that nice blue colour. I dyed some Polwarth/Tussah silk blend for my etsy shop. I went with a chemical vat as I am not really into using urine in a vat and didn’t have time to do a fermentation. I made a stock solution:
It is supposed to be that colour. You want the solution to reduce or not have any oxygen in it. This is often referred to as indigo white. After the solution reduced in the glass jar I added it to a slightly alkali water solution in my very fancy re-purposed kitty litter pail. Those blue bubbles on top are a good thing.
Then, I wetted the wool/silk blend:
I put it into the vat trying to not introduce any oxygen into the vat:
I pulled it out after a first dip and the oxygen causes the reaction that makes it turn blue to occur:
I did 5 batches with a varying amount of dips to make different shades of blue. Here they are still oxidizing until I wash them and rinse in a rinse with a little vinegar to counteract the alkali:
I threw some other fibres in the vat but that was when my camera battery needed to be recharged. Wow the battery lasts a long time. I have since washed everything out and it is drying inside now as it is raining outside.
I love natural dyeing! Life is awesome.