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Indigo Crystal Dye Instructions

(Indigofera tinctoria) aka pre-reduced indigo

We have a two part video on YouTube with Bjo walking us through the indigo crystal dye process!

STORAGE: These natural crystals oxidize in air, so store in lidded, labeled jars, in cool dark area.

pH & TEMPERATURE: Indigo needs high alkaline vat: 8 pH for silk & wool;
9 – 10 pH for cotton & linen.
Dye vat should be no hotter than 70º to 120ºF.
You can even take it off heat & dye until the pot cools too much.

DYE INSTRUCTIONS: WEAR GLOVES! Indigo will stain fingernails for a week or more.

  1. Fill pot with 3 gal water, heat to 70º to 120ºF.
  2. Add 2 T indigo, 2½ T soda ash, 2 T thiox – too much thiox is a bleach!
  3. [Optional] 1 tsp Glauber’s salt to help extend dyeing time if a long dye session is planned
  4. [Optional] 1 tsp dissolved unflavored gelatin to form a barrier between wool & alkali chemicals
  5. [Optional] 2 tsp powdered madder is good for a warmer blue color
  6. Wait 10 min.
  7. Surface bubbles should be bright metallic shiny blue, metallic; not flat or dull-looking.
  8. Remove bubbles & foam with wet paper towel or damp piece of cloth wiped across vat surface.
  9. Wool & silk dyes in 3-15 min; cellulose fiber (cotton, linen, hemp, raimie in 20-30 min.

INDIGO MANTRA: Dip – Rest – Rinse!
STEP 1: DIP: Work fiber or fabric by hand below surface; allow to soak 10 to 30 min.
When removed from vat, fiber will oxidize in the air, quickly turning yellow-green, then green,
then blue: This is normal for indigo.

STEP 2: REST: Don’t rinse.
Hang or just lay fiber on a surface for 15-30 min to let fiber completely oxidize (turn blue).
Otherwise dye will not bond into the fiber. Wet dyed fiber always looks darker than dried fiber.

STEP 3: RINSE: Don’t skip this step!
Use ¼ tsp Orvus soap in rinse water, add fiber for 10 min to help indigo bond into fiber.
This rinse removes unabsorbed pigment.
If darker color is desired, return fiber to the vat for 3 – 5 min; for
For really dark color, return to vat for 30 – 60 min.
Repeat all 3 steps until desired shade is reached.
Fiber can be re-dipped, rested & rinsed as many times desired, until vat turns gray.

SETTING COLOR: Don’t skip this step because it is necessary to set indigo in fiber!
Wash in Orvus® or non-detergent soap 10 min or longer.
Rinse until there is no cloudiness.
Wash cotton twice in washing machine, separately or other fiber will be pale blue!
It is normal for indigo to crock (rub off); it’s why indigo-dyed jeans wear in lighter areas.

VAT ADJUSTMENT: Indigo vat can last several days if kept at least lukewarm & covered
Too much oxygen in vat prevents bonding into fiber & tires vat.
Oxygen will get in but try to avoid adding lots.
Blue vat (vat should be greenish): add pinch of thiox, stir, wait 15 min
Cold vat: color results will be pale. Re-heat vat to 75-90°F, rest 15-30 min
Unbalanced vat: froth changes color, add 1 tsp at a time of calcium carbonate.
When vat stops giving blue, it is exhausted. add pinch of thiox. Stir, wait 15 min before dyeing

CREATING OTHER COLORS: Strong blue overwhelms other colors.
Use an exhausted vat so the blue is weaker: 75% to 85% yellow + 15%-25% indigo for greens;
65% to 75% red to 40% to 35% indigo for purple.

Soda ash (Sodium carbonate)
Diourea Thioxiade (Thiox)
Orvus soap (pH neutral surfactant)
Glauber’s Salt (Sodium sulfate) – Optional
Madder extract — Optional

Go to our online catalog for the supplies listed above, indigo dye history, kits, tie-dye instructions, mordant information & more! Questions? Contact us!

Frolic Class List!

Edit: We have the finalized list of classes on its own page!

Here’s the preliminary list of classes for the 2014 Fall Fiber Frolic!

We’ll be adding a few more in the next few days. As usual, there will be a spinning/fiber arts circle, open dyepots, and the Bjeaux Tapestry for embroidery!

Register today for first choice of classes!

Saturday 10 AM – 1PM

Socks, Two at a time on one circular needle by Amy Bingham

We will knit a baby sock (so you can learn all the sock techniques in one sitting). Learn how to cast on for two socks at one time on one circular needle. Cuff down. Or toe up. We’ll do heel flaps, heel turn and gussets, picking up stitches and how to close the toe with the kitchener stitch.

MATERIALS THE STUDENTS SHOULD BRING: Circular needle (size 1-3-check your yarn for suggested needle size) at least 32 inches long (make sure your cable is flexible-the old metal and plastic needles are not flexible), sock yarn, darning needle.

3 Hours Class Fee $0.00 Min / Max students: 3 / 10

Push That Creative Envelope! by Bjo Trimble

Cut, stamp, trim, paste, enhance – simple actions leading to freedom in designing for many applications. Use fabric, paper, threads, and fusible interlining to think outside the box. No sewing required! No experience required!

MATERIALS THE STUDENTS SHOULD BRING: cameras, questions, and NOT required, but feel free to bring UFOs (UNfinished Objects), including any single items you should have made more of, and any craft items you might wish to share.

2 Hours Class Fee $5.00 Min / Max students: no limit

Introduction to Card Weaving by Kimberly McDermott

This is an introduction to Card weaving. We will go over warping the loom and how to set up the cards to get the patterns you want and do some practice patterns on the bands. Students should bring their own looms and weaving supplies. If they do not own a loom, they can bring a set a of C-clamps and we will go over how to weave between two fixed points.

MATERIALS THE STUDENTS SHOULD BRING: Looms, or C-Clamps to weave between and cards.

2 Hours Class Fee $5.00 Min / Max students: 5 / 10

Beginning Knitting by Erin Reeves

Learn how to cast on and begin to knit your first project. Each student will learn different methods of casting on before starting to knit a scarf.

MATERIALS THE STUDENTS SHOULD BRING: Bring a skein of worsted or bulky weight yarn and knitting needles (straight or circular) for that size yarn. (You may want to purchase two skeins of the same dye lot to make sure you have enough for the size scarf you wish to make.)

2 Hours Class Fee $0.00 Min / Max students: 2 / 6

Saturday 1PM – 5PM

Modge Podge Christmas Ornaments by Amy Bingham

We’ll make some unique Ornaments using modge podge

MATERIALS THE STUDENTS SHOULD BRING: gloves (if you don’t want to peel glue off your hands), paper or fabric you’d like to use, old knitting magazines or patterns, old ornaments you’d like to cover. Anything you’d like to add to your ornaments. Apron or old shirt to wear

1 Hours Class Fee $5.00 Min / Max students: 2 / 10

Narrow ware: From inkle to 4 harness loom by Therese Calhoun

How to move your inkle designed bands from the inkle loom to a 4 harness loom and why would you want to.


3 Hours Class Fee $0.00 Min / Max students: 10

Drop Spindle: New, Returning and Relearning by Cat Ellen

Have you ever wanted to give spinning a try? Would your persona have known how to spin on a drop spindle? Have you tried it before and given up but are ready to try again? Have you spun a bit but are still confused or just want someone to help you improve? It’s time to spin! New, Returning, or Relearning students will be given hands-on spinning instruction with one of the oldest textile tools in existence: The Drop Spindle. And as a wise child once told me, “It’s called a DROP spindle. If you’re dropping it, you must be doing it right!” Don’t miss a chance to pick up this skill again, even if you dropped it before or never tried it at all. Everyone welcome.

MATERIALS THE STUDENTS SHOULD BRING: Drop Spindles and Wool. I will have some you can use

1 Hours Class Fee $0.00 Min / Max students: 5 – 10

Teatotteler Pocket Pouch by Andrea Butler

We will be knitting a tea bag pouch to hold a tea bag or other necessities in a bag or purse. Knowledge of knit and purl stitches. We will be casting on, increasing stitches, knitting stockinette stitch, garter stitch, buttonhole and short rows. Beginner, intermediate class.

MATERIALS THE STUDENTS SHOULD BRING: Drop Spindles and Wool. I will have some you can use

2 Hours Class Fee $3.00 Min / Max students: 1 – 10

Register today for first choice of classes!

Save the Dates!

As always we’re pleased to return to Southern California Handweaving Guild’s Weaving & Fiber Festival, Nov 2 in Torrance, CA! We weren’t able to make it last year due to conflicts and health issues, and missed seeing everyone so much.

Our Fall Frolic will be November 15, once again at the Monrovia United Methodist Church!

We’re also happy to report that we’ve scheduled the 2015 Retreat for the weekend of June 26 at Arrowhead Ranch! Because we booked it early, we’ll be able to offer classes starting at 9am on Friday morning until Sunday afternoon! We are SO excited to Arrowhead Ranch and hope you are, too.

Have a neat technique you want to share? Want to teach others how to do the craft you do but no one else seems to? ANYONE can teach at our Frolics! You can submit a class proposal online anytime, and we’ll be in touch before the event.

Teachers receive a discount on event entry based on the number of hours they dedicate to teaching. We request that teachers only charge their students for materials to keep our events affordable.


Some photos of Arrowhead Ranch

Time to share more photos of our new venue for the retreat! There’s a wide variety of cabins available – this just shows some of the unique features in a few of them!

2014 Retreat is Scheduled! New Location!

We are so excited about the retreat this year that we nearly couldn’t contain ourselves until we signed the contract!

When: June 13-15, 2014

Where: Arrowhead Ranch Conference Center, Lake Arrowhead, CA

Arrowhead Ranch has cabins featuring real beds and private bathrooms, and come in different configurations that can accommodate between 2 and 7 people. There’s a large dining hall and plenty of indoor and outdoor space for our classes, and a pool, jacuzzi, hiking trails and more for your downtime! It’s a great location if you want to bring your family along for the weekend – Arrowhead Ranch is located in the natural beauty of the San Bernardino National Forest, just minutes away from  Lake Arrowhead.

Cost: $350 (shared cabin) if registered before May 15; $450 on & after May 16. Register & pay online via our store.
Contact us at info@griffindyeworks.com for prices for kids, partners, and families, or if you wish to attend classes but not stay on site, or for a private cabin.

The price still includes ALL food and lodging from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. This year, however, you we won’t be roughing it quite so much – you won’t need to bring your own bedding, rugs, or pop up tents for our outdoor tent city! No canvas tents – the cabins are all well-appointed, clean, and include private bathrooms, tvs, and wireless internet. You can see some photos of the cabins on the Arrowhead Ranch website! This event will truly be a retreat – not a campout!


Vendors are welcome at the Griffin Dyeworks Retreat! Please contact us at info@griffindyeworks.com to learn more.


Teachers are given a discounted entry fee based on the number of hours they are scheduled to teach classes. We’re accepting class submissions on our online form.


Store down for maintenance

Update 1/16: We’re back up and running! Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you encounter any problems.

Our online store is having some difficulties, and it may be a few days before we’re up and running again — in the meantime, feel free to email us at info@griffindyeworks.com with questions or orders and we’ll do our best to help you out.

April 12 is our Spring Frolic!

Calling all teachers! We’re now accepting class proposals for our next Frolic, which will be held on Saturday, April 12 at the Monrovia United Methodist Church in Monrovia, CA.

April 12 Frolic

Teachers can submit a class proposal via our online form, and this post will be updated as soon as we have the usual downloadable form.

Is there something you’ve been itching to learn? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to find someone who can teach that class!

What the Retreat Means to Us

John and I started the Griffin Dyeworks Fiber Retreat because there was nothing else for small fiber groups in Southern California at that time. There were several Northern California conference and workshops, but not here. There were large conferences held around the state, but they were more formal and less hands-on. These many years later, other small conferences have appeared and seem to be well-attended, too. So we asked fiber friends if they would teach classes and got an enthusiastic response.

Retreat Panorama

With this encouragement, we starting looking for a venue. An Eagle Scout friend suggested a Tehachapi Mountains camp within easy driving distance of Los Angeles. We went to meet Ranger Terry Hall, camp director, and ended up selecting Camp Verdugo Oaks (CVO) for our first Fiber Retreat.The event was far more successful than we’d allowed ourselves to hope, which delighted us and encouraged us to hold another Fiber Retreat the next year. And the next. And the next.

There have been nine Fiber Retreats so far. We plan to continue for as long as there is an interest in attending a cozy, encouraging, friendly Retreat.This gives Retreat participants a chance to ask questions of the teachers, or even request an impromptu class in something not listed on the schedule. It is common to hear a teacher say “Class in naalbinding over here in 15 minutes!” Or even to have a participant show a hitherto unknown talent that they are willing to share.

Left, Dodder in a dyepot and dry, and Right, Scotch Broom in a dyepot

We have explored many dye techniques and materials, including the Scotch broom brought in by one participant. She stopped by the side of a freeway to pick the flowers, which must have startled passersby. Another dyestuff was dodder, a parasitic yellow web often seen in Southern California.

Ranger Terry is a Mountain Man, with a fine collection of vintage trade beads. He often joins the spinning circles to bead feathers or sew leather trousers. The fiber folk welcome him.It gives us immense satisfaction to stand under the moonlight and see the outdoor work areas filled with chattering, laughing, busy fiber folk, all too excited to go to bed. This is the creativity we love to have encouraged!

Ranger Terry, with some of his Indian trade beads

Since the camp is in the wilderness, we had Bruce the Bear trolling for goodies during the night, but we seldom saw him. Ranger Terry would run Bruce off with rock salt in a shotgun. Alas, all that is left of Bruce is a large green footprint on the lodge sidewalk, the result of his investigating a newly painted picnic table. Sparky, a black and white cat, is proficient at dodging all the wildlife at Camp Verdugo Oaks. Sparky likes to hide in vehicles. Fiber folk usually get only as far as the I-5 Freeway before discovering him, but others have carried Sparky all the way home.

The finest Retreat accolade started with a tragedy. John’s sister in Montana was failing, so we got a phone call on the eve of the Retreat to come quick. It was far too late to cancel the Retreat, so we contacted several of our teachers and asked them to take over. They agreed with alacrity, and ran the Retreat so well, we doubt if anyone missed us.

These wonderful fiber friends have been a mainstay in keeping the Retreat going, planning new activities, and finding guest teachers. They are so invaluable to us and to the Retreat. This is what makes the hard work of organizing such an event worthwhile!

Where do we see the Retreat several years from now? With the enthusiasm and hard work our amazing teachers and helpers are willing to put into it, the Retreat will continue for a long time. — John & Bjo Trimble

Retreat Wrap Up

Spinning wheels and looms at the 2013 Retreat

Our ninth retreat was two weekends ago, and I’m sure you’re all in the same boat as me – still processing everything you learned, uploading (and tagging!) photos, and maybe unpacking.

Bjo put it best when she wrote on our email list:

Wow! Our 9th Fiber Retreat was absolutely fabulous! It was very high energy, everyone learned something new (including the teachers), and there were some delightful surprises.

Pixies invaded the camp one night with a basket of crocheted flowers and butterflies. They proceeded to yarn-bomb the fence, several bushes, the Camp Verdugo mailbox, doorknobs, and vehicle antennae! Plus Ranger Terry’s own chair. We point no fingers.

However, many of us took at least one flower or butterfly home with us.

Our dye classes had a lot of people but there was no crowding around the dyepots. It looked as if everyone had a good time achieving various effects with tie-dyeing, mixed dyes, and color changes with mordants and modifiers. I have seldom had such a satisfactory dye session! 

Ercil was a wonderful cochineal teacher and her students were delighted with the amazing range of reds and purples they got.


Katerina again ruled the kitchen, assisted by her daughter-in-law, Taylor, and by Sarnat, who is short enough to wash pots in the Scout-height sink without killing her back.

Thanks to all our consistent Retreat participants who helped everywhere, some taking up impromptu teaching when asked. Several new folk added to the general fun. We sincerely hope they return again. Everyone assisted with tasks, and helped so well in packing up and cleaning the camp that we all got to go home hours ahead of time! We are very, very grateful. Thank you all!

Very high appreciation to our wonderful teachers, who always come through for the Retreat, making it a great learning experience! We tried to repay our debt to them with a selection of good books, but of course there are not enough books or other thanks enough to cover their amazing willingness to volunteer.
Thanks again, all, for coming and making this Retreat so memorable! — John & Bjo
We very literally could not hold the Retreats or the Frolics (like the one coming up Sept 21!) without volunteers both behind the scenes before the event and during them. Thanks are not enough!

Fall Frolic – Sept 21!

We’re excited to announce that we have a date for our Fall Frolic! It’ll be Sept 21 at Monrovia United Methodist Church. Class proposals are being accepted and registration is open.

There’s more information on our Frolic event page!