Two of my friends, Kirsten and Donna came over yesterday to play with my woad. We had mixed success. The plants have not done all that well this year. Like every other biannual in my garden, many of them think they’re in their second year and are bolting. Particularly the Chinese woad which started to bolt when it was still really little and was a total fail. I started more plants but only about 4 of them survived. They gave us a few leaves to add to the collection anyway. The main woad patch managed to give us a bucketful of rather bug-chewed leaves. This is what it looked like before we picked everything but the tiniest new leaves:
We did the usual extraction and got some pretty good blues, especially in the first few dips:
The wool and silks showed the most true blue with cottons and rayons leaning more towards teal. Kirsten dyed a pole-wrapped shibori silk scarf. This is just a detail:
Isn’t it pretty? Donna dyed some woven shibori samples:
They came out pretty intense and I’m sorry I didn’t get a shot of them after she unpicked the ties. I was concentrating on my weld-dyed rayon skeins. This photo goes from the left: plain weld, woad exhaust over weld exhaust, woad over the middle weld shade, woad over the darkest weld, plain woad:
Only the weld is rinsed and dry and the other skeins are still oxidising for the next day or two so they could be a shade or so lighter after that. I’m quite pleased with my first Lincoln green!
However, I’m not so pleased with the woad that I extracted and left in jars in my cold room since last November. Only 1 of the jars smelled right and the other 3 were quite stinky and a little mouldy on top. I scraped that off and poured them all into a vat together. Mistake? Maybe. Next I tried to decide what to do with the resulting blue liquid. I thought it might need more soda ash but wasn’t able to tell the pH because I only have pH paper and the colour of the vat obscured the colour I was supposed to read on the paper. I added about half what I would to a normal vat anyway, just in case. Then I heated it gently to 50C and added the usual amount of thiourea dioxide, covered the pot and let it rest for half an hour or so. It didn’t clear at all and looked kind of grey-blue and murky, so I added a little more soda ash and thiox and waited again. I finally got a little bit of an indigo flower and it smelled a little more like the usual vat but it never would clear:
I tested a little piece of wool yarn and got a light greyish blue so I dove in and tried dyeing a skein of the rayon and then some bamboo weaving yarn. The colour is fairly light even after 3 dips and as murky as the vat!
Stinks to high heaven too! Though that will go away when I wash them out. Hopefully the dye won’t all wash out with it! Then today I got annoyed with it and I dumped the recalcitrant vat. Perhaps I should stick to going from plants to dyeing the fibre in the same day. I get good results when I don’t mess with the procedure! Or else I did something wrong? The bottled dye went off because it wasn’t sealed well enough? Something was definitely not right.
We’re having the painters working on the house today. They were able to come earlier than next week so hopefully they’ll be done quickly. Only the eaves and peaks need doing so it shouldn’t take 4 guys too long. Better them than us up on those ladders! Kind of interesting letting them use the bathroom though…