Indigo: Weaving with the Color of Calm

Kate Kilmurray writes about how she uses indigo-dyed loops and a simple potholder loom to create a mindful and meditative weaving experience.

Kate Kilmurray Mar 28, 2024 - 6 min read

Indigo: Weaving with the Color of Calm Primary Image

A basket of Kate’s indigo-dyed potholder loops. Photo by Mariah Green

For many of us, weaving is about returning home, using our hands, connecting to our inner creativity in a way that is safe, open, and expressive. In challenging times, weaving can help us settle our restless minds, open our hearts, and connect more deeply with who we really are. The colors we reach for and spend time with can make a difference to our feelings about the piece we are working on, our mood as we look at it, and our thoughts as we weave. Far and away, my favorite color to work with is indigo. For me, it is the color of calm.

I practice weaving as a form of embodied meditation. Making beautiful handwoven textiles helps me to access my inner stillness and creativity, and I teach others to do the same—to slow down, engage the rhythms of the body, and reach a state of wholeness and flow.

Kate demonstrating her weaving technique. Photo by Sean Kilmurray

Several years ago, I unearthed a forgotten item from my childhood and discovered an unexpected and transformative tool: a simple 7-by-7-inch metal handloom. Holding that loom, I remembered my grandmother’s hands teaching me to weave and realized that my introduction to meditation had happened in childhood, weaving on a handloom. When I rediscovered weaving, I remembered something that we, as a culture, have forgotten—we can always access inner stillness and peace through simple, embodied practices. By using our hands in craft and contemplation, we can quiet the mind and reconnect with our innate creativity.

Selecting the fibers I work with that include the shades I’m drawn to and the textures my fingers feel and respond to is really important. Nature offers us much in terms of inspiration, and weaving within my environment allows nature to speak to me through color, line, shape, and pattern. I allow those qualities to find expression in my weaving. The lines in a tree branch, the textures in a bush, the colors in flowers, the waves in water, the vast openness of the sky near my home in California—all of these make up my weaving palette.

For Kate, potholder weaving is a time of mindfulness and meditation. Photo by Sean Kilmurray

Indigo inspires creativity, asking for something new to emerge, tapping into a longing to be heard, to be seen, to belong. The many variants of blue that flow through the fibers remind me of a deep and abiding connection of being in water, cloud-spotting as a child, or the magic of the deep, dark violets of petals in a bouquet. When blending blues, I embrace these tender memories of being in communion with nature to bring meaning to my weaving. I feel that I am translating the beauty of nature into form, a simple and direct expression and connection.
Indigo is a color steeped in centuries-old tradition across Asia and West Africa. Amazingly enough, the oldest-known dyed indigo fabric dates from over six thousand years ago. Once a color synonymous with royalty, synthetic indigo was introduced in the nineteenth century and is now closely associated with denim and everyday garments, particularly here in the United States.

A hand-dyer in Missouri dyes my wool loops, and my cotton loops are dyed closer to home in California. The wonderfully innate nature of the hand-dyeing process means that each loop is completely different, bringing texture and a unique patina to each handweaving. I also cut indigo loops from well-loved socks to keep them out of the waste cycle and lengthen their lives by reusing them in a new way.

Some of Kate’s woven potholders. Photo by Sean Kilmurray

Although I follow a few patterns I’ve developed, I often weave intuitively. Doing so allows my creativity to flow, and I create space for the colors to guide me. I routinely vary the weaving techniques by adding knots, plain weave, and twill, depending on how the fibers are speaking to me as I work with my hands. Restful and nourishing, working with blue helps me to breathe more fully, to relax, and to allow my creativity to flow. It is a quiet contemplation with color, texture, and touch as a guide to weaving from the heart. Working with such a beloved color creates a deeper connection with my work.

Making and bringing woven items into my home helps me to strive for a simpler way of being, where things that I make are shared with others, where materials are more sustainable and items are built to outlast us. Just as denim was made to be hard-wearing for workers who needed the toughest of materials to protect their bodies, indigo can continue to sustain our well-being by being woven through our homes and inspiring calm. It embodies the restfulness of nature, accepting what is, being peaceful.

Kate Kilmurray is a California-based fiber artist whose work has been featured in Selvedge and other magazines. Her textiles are sold internationally, and she regularly teaches in-person and web-based weaving workshops. Find her at and on Instagram @kate.kilmurray.