Saturday, July 14, 2012

blue thumbs

thinking of the book from so long ago
"Even Cowgirls Get the Blues"
where Sissy Hankshaw is a woman born with a mutation
of enormously large thumbs, though she considers it a gift...
mine are not so big but lately bluer than usual.

the woad bed is growing quite nicely.
here it is at
the end of June
 I harvested some of the plants that needed thinning
and gathered up 3.5 pounds
 simmered the leaves up
 the dye liquor produced the right brown shade
 I adjusted the pH and it changed to a lovely green
reduced the oxygen
 the pigment settled
 and was drained off
and is now drying to a powdered extract
bottom line numbers
3.5 pounds of leaves yields 2-4 grams of woad extract
I need 30 grams of extract to make a stock to then dye with.
it's slow and peaceful.
it's happy work for me.


  1. Sissy Hankshaw... wow that takes me back! Back in the day, I read all of Tom Robbins books.

    1. I didn't read them all but Cowgirls was quite the rage.

  2. Anonymous10:02 AM

    ... slow & peaceful & happy work ... & there's a lot to be said for that, if you can "afford" it. makes the price of "store bought" look not so bad. but, I would like to try this whole process someday, maybe ... m.

    1. you'd find it quite interesting, actually!

  3. excellent blues.
    and tom robbins is worth the exploration!

  4. I love the blue thumbnail in the bottom picture. I wish mine were blue right along with yours. :)

    So, will you be harvesting all of the plants this year?

    1. I will Benita. I will let a few plants go to seed and then start the process again in the spring. I want the best blue pigment which I believe comes from the first year only. It's a learning process!