I still have some dyestuffs that have been given to me… and before I dig out my home grown madder, I thought I would use the last of the dried madder root I have.
First, the boiling water soak and pour off (saving the poured off liquid for another bath, in my case). Jenny Dean is my guide in the case of madder though I also read Jim Liles and Rebecca Burgess…
I decided to try to manage the madder (as opposed to having little particles distributed through my fleece and yarn) by putting it in a recycled nylon stocking–which you can see at the bottom of the picture poking out of the dyebath. First I added alum mordanted BFL-silk sock yarn. The first fibres to enter are those likely to be most red.
Over time the shade really does deepen.
Eventually I decided to add fleece, as you can see.
I did several exhaust baths, including one or two some days later. Then I did one a week later and still got apricot! I also tried a different method by which Jenny Dean (in her rather lovely new book A Heritage of Colour) achieves aubergine. I was sceptical about this method. Not because I doubt Jenny Dean really gets purple in this way–I am sure she does! But because it calls for using judgment in the matter of mordanting and modifier, and I know my judgment is nowhere as refined as hers. I further prejudiced my chances by using the poured off first bath rather than using the most powerful dye bath I could. I had, you know, only so much madder, so many plans, and only a modicum of confidence to be going on with. I kept looking at this brownish bath and thinking it was not succeeding. To my surprise though–once the fleece actually came out of the bath and I pulled it from the rinse bucket, it clearly was a shade of purple.
The sock yarn–made me happy. It came out of the dyeing process all scruffy looking, reminding me to always do my own skein ties. But I love the colour!