Blue ice

I have had lots of blue adventures this summer with my homegrown Japanese indigo and woad, and they are not over yet. Today’s post is about blue ice and leaf pounding.

To learn more about fresh indigo dyeing, pop in at the Dogwood dyer‘s!

I love that I can dye straight from fresh indigo leaves. I have tried the salt rub method a few times with both Japanese indigo and woad, and they have all given lovely results. Another fresh leaf method is the ice method, also called the blender method. You blend freshly harvested leaves with ice cold water, strain the blended leaves away and plop prewet textiles in the indigo juice for 5–20 minutes.

Silk cuffs

Usually when I play with indigo dyeing, I test with handspun silk yarn, a linen button and strips of linen and antique cotton. This time I had an addition to the dye bath – a white silk shirt I bought second hand online. It has wide and billowing cuffs that I wanted to dye with the ice method.

I used two plastic clamps to make sure the cuffs came straight and organized into the dye bath. I also clamped the neck strings together with the cuffs. To keep them off the dye I tied the rest of the sleeves and the body in a plastic bag. I prewet the shirt with the rest of the textiles overnight and prepared some water to cool in the fridge and an ice tray in the freezer.

Blue ice

In the morning I realized the capilarity had done its thing and wandered up into the rest of the garment. I knew that was a risk, but I didn’t mind. It could turn into a lovely effect.

I picked 100 grams of Japanese indigo Maruba leaves and blended with the ice cold water, strained off the leaves and carefully added the cuffs and the rest of the fabrics into the green fluid. Anything could happen now. But I was okay with that, it was an experiment and I would learn from it either way.

Baby teal

After only five minutes in the ice bath there was a clear difference and after 15 the material had transformed into the loveliest baby teal.

I have a contradictory relationship to the colour teal. While I do love the colour, we don’t have the concept in Swedish so I am never sure whether or not I can call it teal. I don’t always know how to keep it apart from turquoise and other neighbouring colours. I decided though, that the colour of the cuffs is baby teal, and so it is.

The shirt is still wet and the colour a little more intense than when dried.

The dye did creep up an inch or so above the cuff seam, as I suspected. I really like it, though. It’s a perfectly imperfect transition between dyed and undyed, like a blue shadow.

Leaf pounding

I had planned the blue cuffs for quite a while, but it was only a day or two before I dyed that I realized that the perfect partner to the blue ice experiment would be pounded indigo leaves. I would place them as a decoration above the cuffs and around the neckline. So I picked some Japanese indigo leaves, placed a piece of cardboard between the fabric and the hammer to protect the silk and and pounded away.

I used leaves of different sizes from both the rounded Maruba and the arrow shaped Koyoko. Both for their different shapes and for their different blues. I turned the silk shirt inside out and placed the leaves between the layers to take advantage of both sides of the leaves. This means that every leaf print has a mirror image somewhere on the shirt. Placing the leaves between the slipaway silk was a bit fiddly, but with pins and focus I think I did a pretty good job getting the pattern symmetrical.

Yoke play

I have been designing the yoke in my mind the past few nights. In the early hours I knew just the way: I wanted the yoke to resemble a knit Fair Isle yoke.

I started at the neckline with downward pointing Koyoko leaves. Below that upward pointing Maruba leaves and to give some structure to the base line I added the tips of Kyoko leaves. To create the tips I placed the whole leaf where I wanted it. I placed a piece of cardboard on top of the leaf, with the baseline covering the Maruba leaves to the left and right of it and pounded on the cardboard.

There is still some green left in the leaves, but I assume it will fade away and reveal some more blue. This shirt will mature and change over time, just like we all do.

My leafy garden blue ice shirt is finished and I have lots of ideas of more leaf pounding with my homegrown flowers. There is so much to discover and play with. I am buying another second hand silk shirt right now!

Happy spinning!

You can find me in several social media:

  • This blog is my main channel. This is where I write posts about spinning, but also where I explain a bit more about videos I release. Sometimes I make videos that are on the blog only. Subscribe or make an rss feed to be sure not to miss any posts.
  • My youtube channel is where I release a lot of my videos. Subscribe to be sure not to miss anything!
  • I have a facebook page where I link to all my blog posts, you are welcome to follow me there.
  • I run an online spinning school, welcome to join a course! You can also check out my course page for courses in Sweden.
  • On Patreon you can get early access to new videos and other Patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patrons is an important way to cover the costs, time and energy I put into the videos and blog posts I create. Shooting and editing a 3 minute video takes about 5 hours. Writing a blog post around 3. You can read more about my Patreon page here.
  • Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.
  • In all the social media I offer, you are more than welcome to contact me. Interacting with you helps me make better content. My private Facebook page, however, will remain private.
  • I support Centro de textiles tradicionales del Cusco, a group of talented textile artists in Cusco, Peru who dedicate their work to the empowerment of weavers through the revitalization and sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Please consider supporting their work by donating to their causes.
Liked it? Take a second to support Josefin Waltin on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.