Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Got the Blues

... growing in my garden! I'm beyond thrilled - because it's hard to get the blues. Natural dye-wise, that is. But I got it, and am so proud!

 I know it sounds silly being proud - but blue just wasn't a part of my natural dye world for more than ten years. And now I've grown blue - in my own garden - organically grown.

Cutting and filling this basket with Polygonum tinctorium from my own garden (not the 'real' indigo, it's also known as Japanese Indigo) - filled me with an exitement which can only be compared with the exitement I felt as a child before yule. And it smells so good too!

How to dye with Polygonum tinctorium:
I trimmed off the leaves and put them in the food processor with some cold water. Let it soak for half an hour with some vinegar added to the solution, then strained the liquid through a silk scarf and squeezed the pulp thoroughly. Added some more cold water and a bit of vinegar to the pulp, same procedure as before. Then the wetted yarn and sik scarfs were added to the dye bath. I let it soak for an hour, stirring occasionally. Squeezed it and let it hang to dry. It was wonderful to see the blues develop - slowly before my eyes.

 After 1. dye bath ...

The silk scarf on the top and in the bottom is dyed with only Polygonum tinctorium. Number two from the top is the one used to strain and squeeze the liquid. It's a very strong turquoise. Number three and four is over dyed, ivy and birch leaves, I believe.

I really recommend trying to dye with this plant! It was easy to grow, the seeds sprouted right away (sowed in pots inside) - and I didn't do anything but planting them in a mostly sunny spot with lots of manure. We had a pretty cold, wet summer which they apparently liked.

The dyeing process was easy and fun. No boiling, chemicals or synthetic additives. Organically grown leaves, cold water and vinegar, that's all. And no stress or rushing, I baked a cake and made apple butter while dyeing.

I had to dig up and bring a couple of plants indoors, hoping they will make seeds for sowing next year. Fingers crossed!


  1. thanks for the info. great results.

  2. How exciting!
    I wonder how it would do in Arizona..... were it's neither cool or wet in the summer. I guess I will find out next summer!
    Thank you for sharing!
    Julie Schubert

  3. You convinced me that this might be a great way to go. My only other experience with indigo included using thiox which is not a chemical that I want to have around.

  4. Jeg fortår din glæde :-)
    Jeg har kun prøvet at plantefarve på seminarium, men husker det magiske ved den blå farve !

  5. WOW...fantastic..just have to see if l c an find seeds here in UK. What beautiful colours. Well done for all that experimenting. you derseve those beautiful colours and thanks for showing us how you did itxxlynda

  6. What magic! Those blues are beautiful.

  7. this is very exciting! I love the color and I didnt know that you could dye this way. I want to try it too.

  8. Thanks! - I'm so happy it could be of some inspiration :0)
    I'm no pro, but don't hesistate to ask if you have any questions!

  9. I have been babying my plants, bringing them inside at night, but now's the moment to dive in and try your method. Thanks for sharing.


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