Tag Archives: blue

dyeing with japanese indigo (and woad)

Long time no see! But here  I am and here is how my micro-plantation of Japanese indigo looked like a month ago (20-25 plants or so in total, seeds are  from Wildcolors in UK)

Japanese indigo

For growing the plants and then dyeing (sodium hydrosulfite method) I followed this instructions from the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers (free download article) and peeped in Wild Colour by Jenny Dean.

Japanese indgo

thick blue film appeared on the surface of the bath after simmering the leaves for a couple of hours at 50-60 degr.C



(the “foaming” stage after adding sodium carbonate didn’t really work for me, there was no blue foam). But the dyeing worked anyway:

yarn dyed with j. indigo from the garden

a week later I tried the same process with woad, with same amount of leaves and this time there was the blue foam.


Woad dyebath gave paler and cooler blue compared to japanese indigo.

Here is some woollen yarn (and little pieces of rya wool) dyed with j.indigo on the left and woad on the right, same number of dips:

yarn dyed with indigo and woad

Next year I want to try indigo with yeast bath or urine bath and fermenting the plant material (mainly just to try and see if it works)

Being in indigo mood I have finished the shawl from my handspun yarn (which I dyed  with synthetic indigo last year).

shawl Coeur de Lion

the pattern is Coeur de Lion from Ravelry. I first saw here in February Twelve blog.

shawl Coeur de Lion


used some of the samples of daldräll and gagnefkrus weavings for these little pouches


and a book cover

and a bag


A cardigan I finished sometime ago. Simple and cheap 2 ply wool yarn bought at  Tampere Art and Craft center during our job trip to Finland (We looked at finnish landrace horses and cows and it was very cold. Oh and yes, I went to Moominvalley :)

One-piece, seamless, very easy-going pattern –  Yellow Wall by Judy Brien on Ravelry.

While knitting I had a suspicion it would turn out quite oversized, and it did, but I decided to try to felt it a bit in hot soapy water. First tried on a little sample and then on a whole sweater and quite happy with the result – it all feels smoother and warmer, it somehow worked well for this particular yarn. (And it is exactly  my size!)


favourite bracelet, custom-made by a jewellery-maker-photographer friend Elena Erda.

Russian indigo

I’ve been thinking – I will share here,  now and then,  some textile links I stumble upon in Russian-speaking  internet comminity. (Just because I can :)

Here is indigo resist work of Elena Dikova from Kargopol

More on her VK page

daldräll och gagnefkrus

Now daldräll – swedish heirloom version of overshot, the pattern is not perfectly symmetrical, which is considered to be  charming and folkish.

tried different material for the pattern weft- various linen threads,raw silk, the favorite is thin hemp held double:

the book of all sorts of Daldräll patterns by Anna Thomasson och Elisabeth Andersson

on the same warp – changing the tie-up of the treadles gives  gagnefkrus, a variant of honeycomb

just playing around

Gagnef is here.

little things from homemade cloth

indigo-dyed rest of the cloth and some handspun linen and nettle yarn

free-stripe linen band

home-grown lavender

lavender pillows, very limited edition.

and some pouches from the linen cloth i wove some time ago

found some vintage silk for the lining

noncanonical Kannon

finished “maid with birds”

old cyrillic incarnation of  Kanzeon – Guan Ying

primordial stitch

The more I looked at the traditional north-Russian embroideries from the region of Karelia the more I wanted to try one of these motifs.  I decided  to weave a linen cloth for it (mainly because i couldn’t find the cloth with the right feeling – rough and soft at the same time), from the old handspun linen yarn (which I bought from a Swedish weaver, her blog is one of my favourites). Both the warp and the weft are single linen threads.

weaving this little cloth wasn’t easy, even if I painted the warp with a jelly from cooked flax seeds  to strengthen it , the last 30 cm of weaving was pain. Luckily the warp was quite short (I was surprised it lasted for more than 1m).

Traditional Karelian embroideries are done with red color on white cloth, I wanted to make mine with white thread on indigo background, don’t ask me why.

Since it was my first attempt with indigo vat , I didn’t dare to dye the whole piece, so I cut out one-third of it. And it worked quite well and fast! (I used hydrosulfit method).

the stitching technique is one of the oldest and very similar to traditional european blackwork, and on the wrong side is supposed to look exactly the same as on the right side (and no knots!)  Well, luckily  I don’t have to show the back side of my embroidery piece to anybody :-)

(for somebody really curious – this little video shows  how they do it Karelia ,the woman on video is talking about how it is important that embroidery looks exactly the same on both sides – both because while doing it you exercise your brain and because “you have nothing to hide” from the world around you – there is no back side of life)

winter blues

textile X-mas cards (cyanotype on cloth) and some other blue crafting

bought a whole bolt of vintage japanese fabric here 



I’ve been wanting to learn to weave on a loom  for a decade and last week I went to a four-days  weaving course here.

This is one of the best things I have ever done.  And at a very nice place  with wonderful people.

I warped the Glimåkra 120 loom with the help of Siv and her daughter Agnes (it took 1, 5 days)

And here is my first ever rag rug, yey :)

Yesterday i started warping our  little loom at home (my mans grandfather’s Glimåkra, the smallest floor loom model).

This is the beginning of a new era  :)

contemporary boro

purely utilitarian.

mended my man’s gardening-and-fixing jeans (3 pairs done, 3 to go). Felt like early 1900-s japanese fisherman’s wife.  It’s a good feeling. Form is changing, function remains.

boro )

my not very steady (yet) relationship with indigo

few years ago, after discovering this and this sites, I got so inspired – I ran and bought myself a bottle of pure pigment (not a cheap stuff). But the  process seemed rather complicated , it required some additional chemicals etc,  I’ve got distracted by other things in life and finally totally forgot about it.

Recently this indigo thing has started peeping out again, I can feel it, it wants to be tried out. And since currently I am in …let’s call it “making things from scratch” mode,  I had to buy some indigo and woad seeds and try to grow my own dye stuff.

so here they are, growing in our greenhouse now, both woad and indigo

A month ago in our local library I unexpectedly found a book by Gösta Sandberg (history, inspirational images and all recipes for different indigo dying processes)


So I think, once days are warmer and while my natural blue dye is growing in the garden I might try the synthetic indigo  from my little bottle (on my homespun yarn? for ikat weaving? make some simple printing blocks and resist-dye?). We’ll see.

And just to round-up the whole thing – here are some pictures of beautiful  blue cloth from swedish museums 1, 2, 3, 4 (the last three are from Gösta Sanberg’s collection), by the way I am becoming a fan of digital museum databases.

P.S.   Japanese Textile workshop blog and Idigodye blog  – lots of indigo stuff.

textiles at Kulturen

Whenever I end up in Kulturen (our nearest open-air museum), I try to sneak into  the “textile study chamber” – a permanent exhibition of old weavings, embroidered objects and folk costumes.

Have a look at this embroidered pillow from Kulturen,  dated 1790,  wool on wool (pictures are clickable for slightly larger size). And another one and just one more .

a blog too

I’ve been thinking – since my textile obsession interest is becoming more and more obvious, may be it’s time I do something about it. Also during one week last month I somehow managed to acquire a sewing machine, a couple of spindles,  spinning wheel (times two) and a loom. And lots of wool and yarn.

So let it be a blog too.

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