Back in the old days (really old, we're talking 1740's here) a clever woman named Eliza Lucas Pinckney found success and riches when she developed a way to grow and process indigo in South Carolina. Back then, it was used to dye cloth and yarn. (Coincidentally, it is still used to dye cloth and yarn today.)
In our age of instant everything and fast free shipping and shopping malls, acquiring clothing or yarn that has been dyed is, frankly, no big deal.
So why bother? Why risk getting permanent dye on your good shoes when you don't have to? If you're asking that question, you have never experienced the joy of dyeing. To go from a bland natural color wool to a multitude of shades of blue is nothing short of addictive.
Dyeing with indigo is a wonderful introduction to the world of color. Let's face it--blue goes with everything, and if you own a pair of denim jeans, you already have something that was probably dyed with indigo.
Using dyes requires chemicals (even the natural dyes need mordants) and mess and know-how. Indigo requires no mordant and if you're lucky enough to use pre-reduced indigo, you can skip the chemical equations, too. And if you find someone fun to show you the ropes, it's sure to be a great experience!
How to tell if you've always been curious about dyeing your own yarn or cloth:
1) You've asked yourself, Why bother?
2) You've noticed yarns for sale with amazing hues and thought,
Hmm, yet another "hand dyed" yarn??
3) You have shopped for a certain color of cloth or yarn and
not been able to find the exact shade you'd envisioned.
If any of this sounds familiar, you should call or email The Charleston Museum and reserve your spot in their upcoming Indigo Dyeing Workshop, taught by me. Come see, no, come experience what all the fuss is about.
But do plan to wear old shoes :)