Woad Dyeing

Since I’ve been generally uninspired about a lot of knitting/crafting lately, I’ve been trying to fill my time with other creative pursuits when possible. Meaning that even though I know many of those creative pursuits won’t stick the way knitting and spinning did, doing them makes me feel more creative and probably works my brain in a way that is healthy.

This weekend I had a woad dyeing class at our local botanical gardens. Woad is like a lighter version of indigo, grown in Europe, and while it doesn’t get as rich and deep a blue, it does get a nice denim blue.

We learned to make a vat of woad dye and we were given a hemp apron to dye. We were then shown a few shibori dyeing techniques and allowed to go to town on our apron.

Here’s what my apron looked like before the first dip in the dye bath:

I used clothes pins, tongue depressors, chopsticks, and rubber bands to create my negative space. I went in quite aggressively with my negative space as our instructor told us that more is better.

And here’s what I ended up with!

This is currently in it’s unwashed state, and the white may get brighter once I wash it.

We were also given the opportunity to bring something we’d like to add to the dye vat, and so I brought some white handspun I’d created years ago. It’s a 2 ply laceweight yarn out of a corriedale fleece I processed.

This also turned out so beautifully! The skein is also in a prewashed state so it may fade down a bit, but honestly, I will probably knit it up like this and then wash it before blocking.

There were only 3 attendees in this class due to the pandemic. I have to say, being willing to take some classes during this time frame has been nice, each class I’ve taken gets more individual attention than any of these classes might get otherwise.

But, the other thing I am noticing is that I haven’t got the passion I used to have for fiber arts in general, and that’s a bit odd for me. The other attendees were quite passionate about dyeing and natural dyeing and fiber arts in general and wanted to talk about what wheel I have and what kind of fleece I used and so on but I just wanted to create this new thing I’d never done before, without getting into the weeds about my other hobbies. But I recognized myself in them, I was them, wanting to hear all the details and discuss different wheels and so on. I just have lost my passion for it right now, and that’s strange, disappointing, and leaving me a bit bereft, what am I if not someone who works with yarn in some way?

Maybe I still am, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it right now. While I have had, previously, times in which I feel like I lose mojo for a bit, this one is so much more pronounced. I know I keep complaining about it, but it’s just so odd!

The class was fun. I’ll not be taking up natural dyeing. This was not my new passion. Maybe I’ll take the basket weaving class next.

5 thoughts on “Woad Dyeing

  1. well that’s ok. Perhaps you will be reinspired by Rhinebeck the Virtual this week! Maybe watch show me your rhinebeck sweater. You are such a great knitter. COVID is weird. It makes our moods moodier!

  2. Your stuff turned out great! I did some indigo dying once and on the way home from the class my yarn started to felt! I guess it is smart to rinse the yarn kind of soon after dipping it if it’s wool and you have a bumpy drive home. 🙂

    I’ve always wanted to try woad, but it is illegal to grow here in Colorado. 😦

    • Yes, our instructor mentioned that it’s invasive, so if we decided we wanted to grow it we’d better check with local rules and even if we can, we should make sure we’ve got a serious plan to contain in.

      My handspun was already decently felted on purpose, in an attempt to strengthen it. So, it didn’t matter TOO much that it continued to felt!

  3. Lovely cloth and handspun. Glad you’ve been able to get out to a class, it really does feel like an especially rare treat at the moment. I think maybe time is the great healer for your crafting mojo… I don’t know what your work situation is like currently but I think everything feels a thousand times more exhausting and everyone is more on edge and it become a bit of a chore just to enjoy the frivolous stuff. I’ve been through periods where I thought maybe I had lost interest for good but I’ve always found the fun came back and it was nice to explore some different things in the meantime. Sending you my best!

  4. I think it’s normal to have”dry” spells… the other day I saw something that Michelle Obama said that really hit home… we are all suffering from low grade depression. I think I might be. Just have little gumption!

    Meanwhile though, you learning new things never hurts. Love the new blue! And basket weaving is fun, you can always use a new basket to hold the yarn until you get around to working with it again.

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