Rope-dyed indigo, pt. 1

That didn’t take long. No sooner was the wool-tweed Space Invader wound, woven, and made into peacoats, then work begins again on the centuries-old contraptions of the one-man-mill in north-east London.

This time it’s indigo. Not just any indigo: rope-dyed indigo cotton. Word has it rope-dying is the best-possible technique for dying the stuff — giving deeper and better uniformity of colour — and is so-called because the yarn strands are entwined into ropes, dipped and re-dipped over and over in vats of indigo dye. And, due to a fortuitous cosmic alignment, the one-man-mill has several thousand metres of it all ready for winding.

Three colours have been selected — wefts of dark and mid-indigo, and a warp of “natural ecru” — and will be wound this week. The outcome will be two two-tone shades of cotton. The yarn, supremely soft, will be woven into a loose twill, so rather than being a stiff denim-like fabric, it’ll be, for want of a more bloke-ish description, soft and flowing.

As with the Space Invader tweed, exact use of the indigo cloth will be determined once more is known of its quality and characteristics — once the one-man-mill is halfway through weaving, in other words. Until then, watch this space, and the one on Twitter.