There is something about the colors that come out of an indigo vat.
What starts out a green that is sometimes shockingly bright then transitions as the dye oxidizes to blues. Depending on the fiber, the vat strength, the length of time (and probably the air temperature), the blues vary from a murky, muddy puddle sort of faded blue jeans shade, to rich, dark, strong blues--not quite navy. No, in my opinion, the darker shades are never really navy. They are always, always indigo. Dark indigo, sure, but indigo. Indigo at its core.
Indigo dyeing has been around so long and used by so many in so many different places (Egypt, Israel, Africa, Palestine, Chile, Peru, China, Japan, Mali, India, Europe, and America) that it is impossible for me to pull a hank of yarn out of a dye vat and not feel connected.
Indigo dyeing connects me to the past as well as to the present and future, both here and in other parts of the world. I think about people living lives that bear little resemblance to my own, but who also dye with indigo thousands of miles from my backyard. As I stand here in my yard, where once thrived a Colonial indigo plantation, I also think about the people who grew and processed the indigo crop in the 1700's for the family who owned the land. What would they have thought about me putting my thoughts about indigo on a blog, on a website, on the internet, that would then get read by people all over the world, on their phones? Crazy, when you think about it.
Last week I fired up the indigo vats for the first dyeing of 2015, accompanied by other seekers of indigo blue. We are all from different parts of the world, in different seasons of life, with different daily lives, different motivations, different past experiences, and different expectations for our indigo journeys.
Indigo was the common point of connection for us that morning. We shared the vats as well as the excitement and awe of the colors that came out of the vats. We shared the appreciation for the story of Eliza Lucas Pinckney and her successful indigo production here in the Charleston area. We shared the desire to try just one more technique in the vats, creating fabrics that glowed with the fire of natural indigo.
Like knitting, indigo can bring people together across cultures and eras and connect them in ways that bring beauty to a world that can always use just a little more beauty.
If you or someone you know would benefit from adding the beauty of indigo to life, be sure to check out my Indigo page.