Weird Wool Wednesday: Late for Summer

skirt with pockets and godets, handdyed indigo linen. sewing

Summer’s gone and I finished my skirt from Wolop indigo dyed shibori linen today!
skirt with pockets and godets, handdyed indigo linen. sewingskirt with pockets and godets, handdyed indigo linen. sewing

It has godets for walking ease and the yoke made of that nice piece of Wokume Shibori (wood grain):
skirt with pockets and godets, handdyed indigo linen. sewing
Nice pockets too:
skirt with pockets and godets, handdyed indigo linen. sewing
I’m wearing it today, Summer linen in the rain, with knee high knitted tights. And a woolen jumper.

This one I finished yesterday:

So conveniently!

I drafted the pattern myself. Somewhere in May…
Perhaps I can tweak it to a thicker Winter fabric for a nice Winter dress?
Which will likely be finished somewhere next Spring…

Which is when my Lilac Summer Cardi will have its two sleeves finished:

The same for my Buttercup Summer top:

I’m not late, I’m planning early. Summer 2018 is looking good.


Shibori dyeing as a birthday gift :)

shibori indigo dyeing Wolop pleats
For my birthday, Lieneke from Wolop offered to come make me an indigo dye vat. I’ve never dyed with indigo before! (I tried, once.)

Today she traversed the width of our country, from the far West to the furthest East, as a mobile one woman indigo dye show. She brought everything with her on the train: a dye pot, all the chemicals, scales, gloves, the indigo. I have a little stove for outdoor dyeing and there are sticks in the woods here for lifting the cloth out of the pot. And off we went!

We dyed on the veranda of the cabin. It rained most of the day. The smell was terrible! But holy moly, what magic! Lieneke knows what she’s doing and I’m in awe: indigo is a diva! The temperature needs to be juuuust right. The pot cannot have chips and cannot be iron. The indigo cannot be old. You cannot stir, you cannot swish. You have to move slow. But have to replace the lid fast. You can’t let your cloth drip in the bath. You have to show the fresh dyed cloth a lot of fresh air, fast. A million little things need to be done just right…

….and then you get the absolute right thing:
shibori indigo dyeing Wolop pleats
The results are spectacular!!! Colour by Lieneke, patterns by me.

I had never done shibori before, where you manipulate the fabric before you dye it. You fold it, you scrunch it, you tie it with string. There are many words for the different techniques. I surfed the web and found I have a preference for long, stripey patterns. So folding, pleating, stitching and clamping were the techniques I tried when I prepared the cloth in the last week.

Here are the pieces I prepared. Folding, pressing, twisting, tying, all in different sequence.
shibori indigo dyeing Wolop pleats
shibori indigo dyeing Wolop pleats
At the bottom is the last bit of stitching still in progress this afternoon: wood grain shibori/ mokume shibori.

Tightening the wood grain shibori:
shibori indigo dyeing Wolop pleats

wood grain shibori mokume indigo dyeing
Mokume shibori.

I had purchased 4 meters of bleached linen. Washed it twice at 90 degrees (as hot as the washing machine goes). I cut it in pieces of 50 x 70 cm because that’s a good size for clothing pieces such as a skirt panel or the left front panel of a top. I plan to sew with it. Garments. Little project bags. Left overs in a quilt. (a what now?! sshh. Let’s pretend I didn’t write that.) I’ve kept one piece behind, still white, it will combine nicely.

This is the result of the carefully pleated, ironed cloth with all the little multi coloured clasps:
itajimi shibori indigo dyeing Wolop pleats
Itajimi shibori.

This is the result of the neatly pleated folds that were wound around a little piece of wood (a bamboo crochet hook). I had put a little bit of cling wrap around and tightened it with elastic band. This kept the main parts white and only the edges of the pleats received dye:
shibori indigo dyeing Wolop
Suji shibori.

What is this magic of indigo anyway? It’s pale green in the pot and then you bring it out and it starts to breathe, in blue:
shibori indigo dyeing Wolop pleatsshibori indigo dyeing Wolop pleats
shibori indigo dyeing Wolop pleats Amazing. And smelly.
How and why you need to charm indigo before it will act as a dye is nicely explained on the vlog of Dünkelgrun which is hosted by Anna who has an PhD in chemistry.

By the way, I’m a bit of a travelling one woman show myself. I arrived early at the train station this morning and got a bit more stitching done. Just started the “wood grain” stitch: Mokume shibori
shibori indigo dyeing Wolop pleats

As a first entry into the world of Shibori I found this tutorial from the smart women of Beyond Canvas superb: Beyond Canvas on shibori  

So both pleating and stitching shibori give results I love best. Randomness within a grid.

Stitching is called Nui. Stitching next to a fold is called Orinui:
orinui shibori indigo dyeing Wolop

Itajimi is folding and clamping. I used some pieces of cardbord as a resist and just tied it with thin string, I didn’t have clamps that could grip it. Here you see how the top part printed, with the shape of the carton and the string:
itajimi shibori indigo dyeing Wolop

Suji is pleating. And wood grain is mokume shibori.

There’s one other technique that I love but lacked the tools for today: pole wrapping. This is called Ashari Shibori.

I’m putting all the jargon in here so I can refer back to it next year, when I dye with indigo again. Because I surely will! This was such fun and the results are so beautiful! (I will have sewn this into garments before next year yeah? Yes. Definitely.) And then I’ll dye again. But not on my own. I prefer the guidance of an expert.

This is a wonderful birthday gift. With some highly original wrapping and a very sympathetic entertainer! 🙂

Finished Indigo socks. And it was a snowman!

I changed the direction of the leaves in the cuff:

There’s a neat little leaf in the cuff, adding to the decreases there:

It’s my own addition. Just like how I changed the heel flap:

I used 85 grams of Wolop Basis Sok plantaardig, handdyed indigo sock yarn. Mock cable. Only twisted stitches on the cuff because they are hard on my rsi. I’d prefer the look of twisted stitches on the leg but I prefer painfree shoulders more.

And these are the gifts that were hidden in the ball of yarn. I LOVE knitting up a magic yarn ball!
magic yarn ball knitter gifts
Buttons and stitch markers and a seam ripping tool for sewing (much appreciated) and a cat shaped pinch thingy annnnnd indeed a snowman! Thank you Lieneke!! 😘 You have given me Sinterklaas in the middle of Summer!

magic yarn ball knitter gifts
The packaging was neat too. Little bags with polkadots and owl tape 🙂

Look at the owls! They have opinions, I think:
magic yarn ball knitter gifts
And that mushroom stitchmarker haha! I gave these mushroom beads to Lieneke for our first Sinterklaas because she loves mushroom (just not for dinner thanks). And she has the skills to make these amazing stitchmarkers (that won’t snag on your knitting for example) but I didn’t know she had and now I have one!

I freed up the owl marker before the mushroom and it’s already been in use:

On my Old Town cardigan. Yes I am dutifully knitting on my WIPs now that SockMadness is over! Nice place holders make it all the more enjoyable 🙂

Happily knitting a blue sock.

You know I don’t like to knit with blue yarn.
But I make an exception for the hand dyed indigo yarn from Wolop. This is great to knit with!

I’ve already finished one sock.

The pattern is a pattern with leaves that I’ve used for plant dyed yarns from Wolop before and I LOVE those socks. They remain beautiful and wear so well.

Woad and Red onion:

The pattern used to be Blattwerk by Stephanie van der Linden but there’s an error in the charts and I’ve changed the mock cable and the heel and other things. Also this time I’m knitting it top down.

The back:

The toe:

(I still cannot kitchener toes without them getting pointy edges. Don’t know the solution. Do you? I tried pulling the yarn through the last three stitches but that didn’t work.)

This is where I am now, about to turn the heel on the second sock:

There’s an extra incentive to knit with blue: this yarn is wound into a Magic Ball!

As I knit little presents fall out:

As part of a swap Lieneke filled it with little gifts that are are freed when I knit up the yarn. This was freed already:


Now that makes me knit with blue yarn!

This is still waiting for me:

Poke poke to get a peek peek:

Hmm. Suspicious shape… I know this shape…

Could this be…. a snow man?…. as a cookie cutter?

What do you think, Lillepoes?


Yes, definitely a cookie cutter. Knit on and make me some salmon flavoured cookies!

Knit on, human!

Muddling on getting pigment from indigo leafs

During the night all the calciumOH-sediment has sunk to the bottom. I poured the liquid into my second container. This should have some pigment in theory and my quest today is trying to extract it.

On Ravelry I got some good pointers about extracting pigment from indigo or woad leafs:

  • the leafs need temperature to release their pigments. 50-60 degrees for indigo leaves, way higher for woad. Merely pouring boiling water on them and leaving them for half an hour is one way. Shredding the leaves and keeping them in warm water overnight is another. The later is more precise and will give more pigment.
  • a dustbin liner filled with woad leafs will give just 3 tea biscuits worth of indigo pigment. My 50 grams of fresh indigo leaves will have crumbs, at best.
  • adding oxygen is so important. I poured the fluid to and fro for about 20 minutes. Using a kitchen aid whisk will work better. Using a drill with a whisk in a big tub is also a good idea.
  • indigo liquid will be way more yellow than woad liquid.
  • getting the pH up is really important. It needs to go up to 9?! test strips to test would be handy.

I added some more water to my calcium-drab and then left it to stand, trying to get more of the colourbits to float in the water as the sediment sunk to the bottom again. About an hour later I poured the liquid with the other liquid, leaving the drab behind.

It does have that tell iridescent tale skin on top:
But I have no clue what that means and what I can do with it.

I’m saving it, this calcium-sediment. Perhaps this is something I can use again to make a next thing less acid:
Having poured the second bit of liquid with the first one I’m now ready to add in oxygen. The oxygen will bind the indigo pigments and they will clump together. I think I’m looking for specs of dark blue dust, like a gold miner.

After trying to add oxygen for half an hour the liquid is still yellow and there are no grains of indigo in sight. This magic is not working today.

I made a cup of tea and read this tutorial by Teresinha Roberts from Very interesting. There’s more to this indigo than just following a recipe…

Apparantly for the pigments to settle the liquid needs to be left undisturbed for three days. This is a problem, we are leaving for the city today. Won’t be back here for 5 days.

My choices are to leave it here for longer (shouldn’t do much harm I guess) or try and dye with it right away. There’s a tutorial on that too, over at Am reading it now.

No. This all is more than I bargained for. I simply don’t have the energy/stamina 😦

I’ll be leaving the jar and see if anything has settled when I return here next weekend. I don’t expect so because there’s no hint of green or blue in this liquid. It may well be that the growing of this particular plant is the reason this does not work. Too cold, too dark, too foresty, too late in the year. It’s the last days of October and they are in bloom… which is weird. Also I may not have treated the leafs the right way, not hot enough. Or not long enough.

Weird thing: when I was pouring the liquid to and fro in the very beginning, when the leaves had only met the hot water and were only just removed from the liquid, I did end up with little bits of dark blue sand at the bottom of the vessel. I thought it was merely plant debris that has escaped the sieve. But the amount grew over time, as I kept pouring and as the liquid grew more darker. One of these grains I crushed and it seemed to be a bit of dark blue powder. But as this was in the wrong stage of the process to yield indigo -the acid level had not been adjusted yet- I reasoned this could not be indigo. Looking back it might have been?

Hey. The Dogwood dyer blends fresh leaves with icecubes and dyes straight from that. Interesting.

The pot has been covered and will remain in the cabin for a few days now. The few hours remaining until we travel I’m doing something else… I’m following the recipe on p 241 of the book Eco-Verf by Anja Schrik.

Eco-printing leaves on unglazed ceramics. Results in two weeks.

Oh, and here’s a picture of the Wrenna in the big yarn. In reality the k2tog or even k3tog are very bulky and the YO make very big holes. Not very pretty.
I’m glad to frog this and use the yarn in stockinette stitch and reverse stockinette stitch (= back panel Concrete)

Failed in getting pigment from indigo leafs

Today I tried the recipe from the book Eco-verf, page 196. It’s for extracting pigment from woad but Anja Schrik said it’s the same for indigo.

indigo plant extracting pigment book Eco-verf by Anja Schrik recipe p 196

50 grams of fresh leaves
about 1200 ml boiling water
following the recipe step by step. It is well explained and also has pictures so you know what to look for and why you are asked to do certain things.
indigo plant extracting pigment book Eco-verf by Anja Schrik recipe p 196indigo plant extracting pigment book Eco-verf by Anja Schrik recipe p 196extracting pigment from indigo leafsextracting pigment from indigo leafsextracting pigment from indigo leafstoo much CaHO2?too much CaHO2?sediment :( failedUntitled

Unfortunately it failed. It turned bright yellow when I added the lime/ Calciumhydroxide/ CaHO2. It was supposed to turn into green tea.

I probably added way too much CaHO2 as the recipe made me uncertain at that point by talking about “a cup of CaHO2” instead of grams. I’m also not sure whether I was to add a certain volume in regard to the volume of indigo-tea or in regard to the calcium-hydroxide-solution.

What do you think, did I interpret this correct?
translation p 202:
“The indigo fluid needs to be mixed with a CaHO2 solution. You need 1 part CaHO2 solution for 4 parts indigo fluid. For example: 1 liter indigo fluid requires 250 ml CaHO2 solution.
Prepare the CaHO2 solution: one cup of CaHO2 per 500 ml water. Add the CaHO2 solution to the indigo fluid. It should turn green.”

I had 900 ml indigo fluid so thought I needed just under 250 ml CaHO2 solution. I took 250 ml of water and added “half a cup” which I took to be 2 levelled diner spoons of CaHO2. I don’t know how big the cups of the writer are. It’s not a standard measurement of volume outside of the UK or USA. I was thinking coffee cups (not mugs).

I did a lot of trying to add oxygen but nothing changed, not in the colour, not in the consistency. It smells strongly of cement. When I put it aside there formed a sediment at the bottom (see last picture) and the tell tale “skin” appeared on top of the fluid. But it never got a hint of green or blue.

Now I am blue. I’d really loved this to go right today as I’m having a horrible brain chemistry/PMS day. I have not enough knowledge to know what I did wrong or what I could tweak to make it better. If it’s too much CaHO2 I could perhaps try to make it more acid with some vinegar. But I don’t know. I’m taking a break now. Please let me know if you have advice and I can try some things tomorrow morning.

Such pretty flowers:
indigo plant extracting pigment book Eco-verf by Anja Schrik recipe p 196
I gathered the seeds (and dropped half of them on the ground). Perhaps I can get them through the Winter and sow them coming Spring.

Printing indigo leaves on cotton cloth.

I picked some leaves from my indigoplants and arranged them on a piece of cotton. The fabric was not pretreated, only washed after it was bought to preshrink it and take away some of the stuff producers put on it.

I sandwiched the leaves between double pieces of cloth, in plastic and onto a towel. Then I took a nice flat rock that I keep in the garden and some frustration and combined them:

Sneak peek. The leaf desintegrates and leaves behind some colour:

Colour is seeping through through all layers. I have to pound very precise to work the shape of the leaf. And I have to pound many many times. This is tiresome, I can see why people do this for a hobby or an experiment, not for production.

Outer fabric:

Inner fabrics, with leaves stuck onto them:

The other outer fabrics. This is actually the fabric that was on top during the pounding. The one at the bottom received more colour.

Peeled off the leaves from the inner fabric, this clearly will be the main fabric:

Then I waited to see if it might grow more blur in the light and oxygen, the indigo magic. It did do so! But not as blue as you’d think when thinking “indigo”.
It went from bright sap green to a darker, blueish green.

I heard that an afterbath with hand soap brings out a bit more blue so I painted the leaf on the left with soapy water (green soap, soft soap, Driehoek). There’s a little difference in colour there:

Leaving it out to dry. I did not give any other leaf a soapy treatment:

Hey, a little friend:

A few days later it looks like this:

They’ve grown more blue.

The leaf in the bottom left is the soapy leaf, as is the left leaf on the paper. They are distinctively more blue than the others.
The fabric in direct contact with the leaves gives the best prints. The other fabrics I’ll reuse, perhaps dye with plants.
I have not rinsed these yet. I did put the iron on the paper leaves, they changed a bit colour then. The soap paper leaf grew even greyish.

I want to pound some more leaves! Fill the whole piece of cloth with it and then sew with it. I have other pieces mordanting in alum, for dyeing. I’d like to combine the two. In a little project bag. Or a skirt.
As soon as I finish a sleeve on a cardigan.

playing with blue: Petrie Shell and indigo plant

With Trees Cowl and sock cuffs done I was in need of a new mindless knitting project. The other projects all require my brain: there are sleeves to be started. Short rows. Gauge. Attention needed.

But not good old Petrie Shell in linen that I had swatched for. Just cast on and follow the pattern:

This is where I started to have doubts. This felt pretty tight. 40 cm? That’s 80 cm in the round. I’m more of a 90 cm hip kinda girl.
The little swatch from my little video-blog had shown it would grow smaller even, from 17 st/10 cm to 20 st/10 cm. But then, linen stretches with wear so perhaps I’d be alright anyway…
After worrying and knitting and worrying and knitting for a while I put this part on a life line and washed it, to see what would happen. Gauge was already 21 st/10 cm unblocked!

As it turned out, nothing happend with the gauge after blocking. It stayed at 21 st/10 cm, which is about the gauge of the pattern.
So I’m happy knitting along until this tube hits my widest part (hint: “my eyes are up here”) and then I’ll put in that distinctive shaping that’s part of this pattern.

In the mean time I’m tinkering about in the garden, helped by a couple of friends. We’ve cleared some brambles and unruly raspberries (who fruits raspberries in November?! Unruly!) and I finally have one of my favourite flowers growing right outside my window, the daisy. This is the Cow’s Eye Daisy I think? We call it Farmers’ Margareta (“boerenmargriet”). I love all species of Daisies with simple white petals and a yellow heart. I’m very happy.
And I’ve got six indigo plants:

They’re not very big yet, after all they do grow in the middle of the forest, but they have responded nicely to my planting skills, manure and encouragement.
Indigo is a special dye for both animal fibre (wool, silk) and plant fibre (cotton, linen). It does not require a mordant to attach to the fibres and it is light fast. This is unlike the majority of the plants for dyeing. You always hear people talking about alum and cream of tartar (CoT) and cooking times and how the colours fade.
Not for indigo.

Indigo has its own challenges though. It will not release it’s dye like most plants (just chop ’em and cook ’em). And once you get it to release its dye it won’t attach to fibre. If you do manage to get the colour to attach to the fibre your fibre will be green, not blue.
Then you have to expose it to oxygen and only then will the green turn blue, the magical indigo blue.

You need special skills and stuffs to make this work. High temperature and quick cooling but not too cool. Stale urine. Fermentation. Under water acrobatics. Hydrosyphilis Chemicalicus. Special gloves. Outdoor cooking gear. Japanese skills.

That’s too much for me. My brain is already occupied with knitting sleeves. I need easy dyeing.
There is an easy way of indigo dyeing. You can release its dye by chopping the leaves in a blender filled with icewater. Then you use vinegar to attach it to fibre (best results with silk) but you only get a (pale) turkoize. (I don’t like turkoize much)

There most be another way. If it’s a question of breaking the plant cells to get the chlorofyl out then brute force would release the dye, I’d think. Brute force would also drive the dye into fibres. I’d think.
Have hammer, will pound.

I took a leaf and folded it into a piece of paper and took a hammer to it.
It was bright green! lighter than this. Then I put it in the sun and you could see it turn darker, bluer. Magic!

With a sturdy fabric you could leaf print indigo leafs, I’d think. Linen, hemp, canvas. I wonder if it’s light fast. If it’d turn more blue. If it’s attached to the fabric properly.
I feel very much like experimenting. But I think I’ll leave the indigo plants to mature a little while more, I feel they don’t have seen the sun enough yet to have made indigo dye in abundance.

I’m waiting patiently, knitting with dark blue linen and enjoying daisies: