An Indigo Vat can be challenging to maintain but also rewarding. It must be nurtured, stirred and fed regularly to keep it happy. When you take care of the Vat, you will be rewarded with the most wonderful Blues, as the magic of the Vat transforms anything that enters it from green to blue.
I made a Ferrous Indigo Vat using The Maiwa Handprints Indigo dye recipe.
The natural Indigo dye recipe contains
Powdered Indigo 20 grams
Ferrous Sulphate 40 grams
Lime 60 grams
This type of vat is suitable for cellulose fibres, such as linen, cotton and other plant fibres. It is not advisable to use it on wool, as this contains Iron (Ferrous sulphate) which can be corrosive to wool and other protein fibres.
For information about other types of Indigo vats, please visit my pages at Allfiberarts – Indigo Fructose Dye Vat
Please check my Web Shop for Hemp, Ramie and other handspun yarns and textiles that have been dyed in my Indigo Vat.
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Handspinning some of these new cellulose yarns takes a bit of practice and the use of different spinning techniques. The cellulose fibres are very smooth and slippery, much like spinning silk. Cellulose fibres do not have the crimp that wool has to enable it to hold together. The fibres do not felt very well on their own. For felting, it is best to blend them with wool. When you spin wool as a single ply, you can felt or full it slightly to help the yarn hold together. With Seacell, Tencel, Rose and other such fibres you can’t. The finished single ply yarn will tend to slip and stretch.
As an example, my daughter knitted her own wedding dress last year – she is a very talented and beautiful knitter. The dress was full length and lacey. She chose to knit with a commercially spun bamboo yarn, very lovely – but spun as a singles. The samples that she knitted looked great, so she continued on and knit the dress. About 2 weeks before the wedding, she tried it on, and it stretched – A LOT! The weight of the full length dress immediately caused it to lengthen about 6 inches. Guess who got a frantic phone call asking for help to take it all apart and shorten it?
In my opinion, for spinning these types of fibres, it is better to spin and ply the yarn to give it some hold and balance. Yes, plying takes a bit longer to do, but in the long run, it can create a better yarn that is more fit for purpose.
To spin a fine weight singles, reduce the tension on your bobbin to allow you more time to draft a smaller amount of yarn. When you reduce the speed of the takeup less friction is placed on the fibre so you are able to draft less fibre during spinning, creating a finer yarn.
Spin the yarn with a high twist, so use the smallest whorl on your bobbin. On my Kromski wheel, this is a ratio of 14:1.
Then ply the 2 bobbins of singles yarn in the opposite direction to what you spun the singles, using the middle whorl of the bobbin.
If you would like to try spinning some Seacell, you may purchase some from my Webshop.
For more information about spinning some of these cellulose fibres, please visit my Allfiberarts website.
If you would like to keep in touch and find out more about spinning and dyeing with plants, please Like and Follow the new SpinFlora Facebook page or sign up for my Newsletter.
I have been a handweaver, hand spinner and dyer for many years, mostly working with traditional fibres such as wools and silk. Recently I discovered the newly expanding world of plant fibres. With developments in textile technology, wonderful new fibres for the hand spinner and felt maker have become available.Derived from materials previously thought of as waste, these fibres are reclaimed from plants such as bamboo, bananas, rose stems and other cellulose materials. I purchased a few small samples and began to spin them. I fell in love with the silky softness, textures and diversity that plants can offer to the textile world.
Looking at some of the new handspun yarns I had created, I thought that adding a bit of colour would make them even more beautiful. It didn’t seem appropriate to use chemical dyes to colour them – plants must be dyed with plants. So my small experiments with the world of plants carried on. The natural dye pots and vats came out of my cupboard and were again filled with tree barks, roots and flowers. I soon found out, that the traditional natural dye recipes needed a few tweaks and modifications to work with cellulose rather than protein fibres. The mordants that prepare the fibre to absorb the dye had to be changed. The temperature and length of time in the dyebath were revised. Even the colours that you expect to achieve are different when you dye a plant rather than a wool. Expect the unexpected. The natural dye bath is a new discovery every day.
Here are some of my yarns and discoveries.
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