Wednesday, 16 November 2011
Indigo Stalks Dye Sublime Grey on Silk.
After growing and dying with indigo for 19 years, you just about do everything possible with the stuff. But boiling the stems after stripping off the indigo pigment laden leaves and using that as a dye bath never happened.
A few weeks back, the mid afternoon shadows were already clammy and blackish and the coming cooler weather's pale fingers were just a few wool hairs away, almost brushing our shoulders as we stripped almost spiritless leaves off the indigo stalks.
Due to a few cool weeks in July only two harvests were possible. The pigment content was good and the plants healthy. Experimenting with fertilizer, two rows of plants with none. Two rows with a reasonable amount and two rows of complete overkill. Sadly, the fertilizer overkill rows were by far the strongest. The indigo field usually gets some locally produced dairy cow manure. It was too soon after the Fukushima nuclear accident to make any rational decision about the safety of manure and there was some old high-nitrogen chemical mulberry fertilizer gathering dust in the barn. (Raising silkworms in the early spring the mulberry is healthy enough with out it.)
The reddish stems in the stainless dye pot were as forlorn as we felt preparing them. And the resulting grey, brought to mind an overcast Canadian West Coast November walk at sundown near the water.. Gorgeous...and sublime.