Since salvaging dye from the neglected Japanese Indigo plants of 2017 proved such an unexpected success, I felt much less pressure to use all of last summer's harvest in fresh vats. Following Deb McClintock's method, whenever I had a surplus, I cut stems and tied them in bunches to dry in the greenhouse.
These have been stored in big paper bags under the spare bed. When I saw a beautiful pale blue shawl on a display at Wonderwool, I bought the pattern, thinking to myself I could recreate that colour using the dried indigo. Also, what a great excuse to buy some silk blend yarn to catch the light and show off the complex cabled border pattern.
Once I dragged the first bag out and started to crumble the leaves off the stems, what appeared to be a large volume of dried indigo soon shrunk down to a modest net bag full weighing 200g.
Even so, that was twice as much as I had before. Once again, I followed John Marshall's instructions as described in Deb's blog, just doubling all the quantities. Previously I had dyed 200g wool tops with 100g dried leaves, so I expected a strong blue on my first 100g skein of yarn and a medium blue on the next and intended to dye a pale blue skein last. In practice, it took three dips each for two skeins to reach two shades of mid blue. Possibly the weight of dried indigo was deceptive, because I did leave lots of small stems in with the leaves. I exhausted the vat with a bit of wool blanket and have saved my other skein of fancy yarn for another time.
The dyed yarn is knitting up with stitch definition just as nice as I hoped and though this pattern takes all my concentration, it's a pleasure to make. Here's a link to an online source, Ravelry of course, the designer is Helen Kennedy and it's called Closer to the Edge.