Indigo Dyeing

Most people are familiar with indigo dye, because it is used to make your jeans blue! Indigo is a plant based dye, but you dye with it a little differently than most other natural dyes. This is because indigo in its natural state is insoluble in water. In order to get the dye to dissolve, indigo is reduced and put into a concentrated liquid state with the oxygen removed. This process turns the indigo dye green! But when you remove your yarn from the dye bath, the oxygen from the air will transform the color from green to blue!

These dye instructions are meant to be used with Jacquard’s Indigo dye kit. It is a little different from other indigo dyes because the dye in this kit is pre-reduced.

Rubber gloves
5 gallon plastic bucket with a lid
Stir stick long enough to reach the bottom of the bucket
A small container for removing and storing the “flower”
A shallow pan to place your yarn while oxidizing
A plastic tarp to cover your dye area

Never use utensils or containers that have been used for dyeing for food preparation. Indigo dye is not food safe.

Preparing the indigo dye
1. Fill up your plastic bucket with 4 gallons of warm tap water.
2. Empty the bottle of indigo dye into the water and stir.
3. Put 2 cups of hot water into a small container, and slowly empty the reducing agent packets into the water. Stir until dissolved, then pour the contents of this container into your bucket with the indigo dye. (Please note: some kits contain one packet of reducing agent while others may have separated the soda ash as an additional packet from the packet of reducing agent.)

4. Stir the vat clockwise, then counterclockwise. Drag your stir stick along the outer edge of the bucket before slowly removing it. Put the lid on the bucket and allow it to settle for at least 15 to 30 minutes. Best results are achieved after waiting for an hour.

1. Thoroughly wet your yarn in water.
2. Put on gloves, and scoop the “indigo flower” (the foam on top of your dye solution) out of the bucket and into a small container.
3. Squeeze excess water and air out of your yarn.
4. While still squeezing your yarn, slowly submerge your yarn into the dye solution. Once fully submerged, move the yarn around to ensure the dye is absorbed evenly. Leave your yarn in the dye for one to five minutes. Tip: Do not drop your yarn into the bottom of the bucket. The residue that has settled there will cause spots to form and your dye will be uneven.
5. When you are ready to take the yarn out of the bucket, squeeze your yarn just below the surface as you slowly remove it from the dye bath. This will prevent splashing oxygen into the indigo dye. Place the cover back on the bucket as soon as the yarn has been removed.
6. Set your yarn aside and let it oxidize. It will change from green to blue! This process can take up to 20 minutes.
7. To create a darker blue, you can redye your yarn as many times as you would like.
8. Rinse yarn gently in tepid water to remove excess indigo, then clean with warm water and wool wash or mild detergent.
9. When you have finished dyeing, gently put the flower back onto the surface of the vat. Use your stir stick to stir your indigo dye clockwise, then counter clockwise to center the flower. Place the lid on the vat and let the dye settle for at least an hour before using the vat again. You indigo dye vat will keep for several days and you will be able to dye several times.
10. When you are ready to dispose of your dye, empty contents down the drain. Clean the bucket and utensils with soap.