Dyeing with Hibiscus, part 2

Last week I wrote about my hibiscus dyeing experience and how I was pretty disappointed with the color results. Since hibiscus is supposed to be very sensitive to tap water, I used distilled water for the entire process. The results I ended up with were pretty boring so I decided to try again using tap water to see if that might shift my results more towards the lavender I desired. Unfortunately, the tap water just produced slightly browner results, also something that did not interest me.

I wrote about indigo dyeing last month after I taught my first class on the process. I mentioned that pre-reduced indigo is reduced enough to be used with just water, but it makes for a more delicate one-time-use vat. While that process is completely inappropriate in a group dyeing setting (I spent a good chunk of my class time dealing with vats that kept getting oxidized by students not used to dyeing with indigo,) it is perfect for me when I need a quick vat. I made up a two gallon vat and was able to get multiple dips in the indigo before it was oxidized which was more than I expected out of such a simple vat. I also found the fibers dyed in the water vat rinsed clear much faster than those in a more traditional vat (which might have also been because all of the fibers going into this vat were mordanted in alum.)

From left to right- hibiscus in distilled water, hibiscus tap water, hibiscus tap water with one dip in indigo, hibiscus with two dips in indigo.

Now the specifics- the recipe I found called for 2 tablespoons of prereduced indigo to one gallon of cold water, but it mentioned that you can use as little as one teaspoon for lighter colors. I ended up going with 1 tablespoon in two gallons of water since I was only dyeing 8 sample skeins and 200g of fiber. I still didn't get the results that I wanted, but I really like the greenish blues that happen when you overdye the hibiscus skeins with indigo so there is a slight chance I will do this again.

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