WOW! That just about sums up my experience learning how to dye with indigo.
I'm in love with the whole process and I want to drop everything on my to-do list and dye fiber, fiber and more fiber.
Saturday, I had the good fortune to take a dye class from Nancy Zeller of Long Ridge Farm in Westmoreland, New Hampshire.
There wasn't anything I didn't like about my day, including the drive up to the property.
Anytime this is your commute to class, you know its going to be a good day.
Long Ridge Farm sits perfectly in its environment. The house is on one side of the road.
And the barns and dye studio are on the other.
The day started off so nice and sunny that Nancy decided to set us up in front of the studio, which happens to be on the road. You've got to give the neighbors credit. Not one person who drove up or down this small, gravel road over the course of the day gave us a crazy look. They all took it in stride, like it's perfectly normal for eight women to be dressed in aprons and dyeing blue any piece of fabric that stood still long enough to be swept into the dye pot.
This is Luna. She is one of the good will ambassadors at the farm. I believe she thinks it is her duty to say hello to each and every car that passes by.
She had a recent incident with a barbed wire fence, but I am happy to report that the score is fence 0, Luna 1. It beat her up kind of bad, but she emerged victorious.
The inside of Nancy's studio is to dye (or is it die??) for. Everything was measured out and ready for us.
We spent the first part of class mixing our solutions and preparing the yarn.
Then we waited for the indigo dye stock to be just the right color.
Yes, I know its green and not the blue you associate with indigo. We'll get to that.
You have the right chemical mix when the vat is what I think of as the color of the Incredible Hulk.
Next, Nancy gets out the pH strips to determine if our solution is at the correct pH levels.
This is my dye partner, Nina, checking the pH level of our dye vat.
When we had the right mix, it was time to start dyeing. Everybody brought different things to dye. Some brought yarn and roving while others brought clothes. Nancy is making sure we're doing it correctly.
The fabic comes out of the vat green-ish blue. Then the magic happens. As it is exposed to air, it begins to oxidize and turn blue. Please don't ask me the chemical reason for this. I prayed and cried, in equal measures, my way through chemistry classes in college so I have no idea how this actually happens. I like the magic explanation. I can live with magic. Chemistry I can not live with.
As the fabic is exposed to more oxygen, it blues up even more.
A few more trips to the dye vat and this piece of clothing was blue as blue could be.
Some of the dyers got wildly creative. This dyer tied small rubber bands around beans to get an almost tie-dyed look. After her piece finishes its magic blue-ing up, she will remove the bands and beans and have a piece of fabric that is unique and varied in color. The rubber bands should act like a resist, not letting in blue dye underneath them.
At one point, we were "Dyers Gone Wild" with one dyer seeing how dye would react up close and personal. Yes, that is a strand of her hair that is now blue.
And no, we weren't egging her on. Not one little, tiny bit. Honest.
I don't know if I could have done that. I'm just getting used to the grey in my hair. I'm not sure how I'd feel about introducing yet another color!
Long Ridge Farm is postcard pretty.
With it's rolling landscape,
stone foundation buildings,
CVM sheep out grazing in the pastures,
and more stone fencing,
I felt like I was having a Martha Stewart-type of day. Actually, a better than Martha kind of day.
Martha is a bit too perfect for me. She makes me nervous.
Nancy, on the right, didn't make me nervous.
She made me feel perfectly at home and at ease with natural dyeing.
My yarn turned out nicely, with many depths of blue.
It was hard to leave this idyllic setting at the end of the day.