William Morris called this pattern 'Wandle'. He named it after the river that ran through his Merton Abbey Works 'to honour our helpful stream'. It contained the soft water that plays an important part in dyeing textiles.
Morris spent many years trying to perfect the ancient art of indigo discharge printing. The technique involves dyeing the whole length of fabric in the indigo blue vat. The design is then printed onto it using bleaching agents of various strengths. The dye in the bleached areas is then washed away and the pattern emerges. This example shows the 'Wandle' pattern after its first application before other colours are added. The white areas are fully discharged. The pale blue shows the areas where a weaker form of discharging agent has been used.