It was always so unnerving, answering that question. i would respond “blue” than immediately regret it, for i loved all colors, then and now: it was just way too hard to decide, as a child, i felt like i had to answer right, “shouldn’t i be saying yellow or red or purple? why don’t they ask me my favorite ice cream, that is easy, mint chip”.
we have been growing and playing with polygonum tinctorium on this farm for quite a few years. inspired by a friendship with sisters developing a natural dye business, we have raised the plants, harvested dye stuff from the plants, dyed with the indican held in those plants and sought to understand each stage of this process. with complex chemistry and mother nature dancing together in the indigo vat, it is hard to achieve what you would call consistency. dyeing with fresh indigo is a time consuming and somewhat perplexing process. over the course of many hours you steep the freshly harvested indigo leaves in warm water to extract the color from the leaves, alkalize the resultant liquid, pour,stir or somehow vigorously agitate your liquid for well over 10 minutes in order oxygenate it and finally reduce it (yes, remove all of that oxygen you just added): all of this to make the beloved color blue stored in those leaves available to our woolen yarn!
for us, so much comes together in this process: the artist and the farmer, the sheep and the dyer’s knotweed. we all meet over magic at the indigo vat. a joyful process that begins here and ends here. for more information about the process, there are many fine books out there. We have a handful ourselves that we refer to over and over again: Dorothy Miller and Rita Buchanan and Jenny Balfour-Paul and Vivien Prideaux
yes, my favorite ice cream still is mint chip, nowadays however i make my own with fresh harvested chocolate mint leaves and cream skimmed from our family cow’s milk. add some sweetness and plenty of churning and voila! better than anything you have ever tasted.