Indigo – magical living tradition

There is evidence that people all over the world have been indigo dying since before 2500 BC. The dye continues to be used to this day because of the magical way indigo colours fibres and the amazing, rich hues it creates.

Unlike any other dye process, indigo is not chemically bonded to fibre, but instead creates a physical bond, expanding when exposed to oxygen and getting trapped within the fibre. Darker hues are created by repeatedly submerging yarn into the solution and exposing to air to let the colour oxidise and particles expand. This layers the pigment, creating rich, glowing hues unlike any other.

shibori dyed Islington

shibori dyed Islington

A result of this unique bond is that working with the yarn is a vital part of completing the dyeing process. Blue hands are a normal feature of indigo as the dye rubs off on your hands as you work. As the yarn is handled some of the large molecules naturally work free of the fibre as it is manipulated. This is part the process and does not indicate a flaw. Manipulating the yarn while making your project will work loose particles free and the colour transfer will then ease. Working and manipulating the indigo-dyed yarn is needed to release the last loose particles of dye, making you a key part of this dyeing process.

Don’t worry – these large particles cannot bond to your lighter coloured fibres as you work, as they are already too large and will simply wash away. Any excess blue on your hands or clothing can be removed with water and soap. However, please note that wood or bamboo needles will likely be stained, so don’t use any prized needles when working with indigo dyed yarns unless you want them blue!

Working with indigo connects us to a continuing tradition of craftsmanship, helping to keep this amazing rich heritage vibrant and alive. Welcome to the magic of indigo!


Shop Kettle Yarn Co. Indigo-dyed yarn…



    [vc_column_inner width=”1/3″]Learn more about indigo:

    Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans Paperback by Jenny Balfour-Paul

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    The Modern Natural Dyer: A Comprehensive Guide to Dyeing Silk, Wool, Linen, and Cotton at Home by Kristine Vejar

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    Watch a fantastic video filmed by designer Ysolda Teague of Kristine Vejar from A Verb for Keeping Warm dyeing indigo yarn.