2015-06-05 16.12.30

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.

2015-06-05 16.24.51

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…

2015-06-06 13.32.51

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.

2015-06-06 13.43.27

Over time the shade really does deepen.

2015-06-07 12.14.17

Eventually I decided to add fleece, as you can see.

2015-06-06 13.43.34

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.

2015-06-23 09.35.37

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!

2015-06-16 08.56.59



Filed under Natural dyeing

8 responses to “Madder

  1. And now I’m intrigued by the purple from madder……. I don’t have her most recent book, something I must rectify!


    • I like the new book a lot. I meant to write a review, but I haven’t managed to do it! She does give a lot of detail about getting different colours from the same dye stuffs, even more than in previous books. And while I thought her previous books represented a non toxic approach, clearly in this book she has gone still further in that direction. there is a lot of interesting historical information to.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. elizabeth streeter

    Love the color, I have fleece and yarn sitting in pans at present ,one in moss and one in eucatlyptus Bark will have to wait till the weekend to check them out havent used madder yet ,but hopefully will be able to plant some soon.


    • Moss! I would love to know how that comes out. It sounds like you have big plans Elizabeth. I hope you’ll enjoy the planting and dyeing as much as I do. I always get colour from eucalyptus bark but different barks give different results. Some dyers find that they get deeper colour with alum when using bark. I haven’t found that to be the case, but there are hundreds of barks to choose from, so that might just be the methods and/or species I have used. Thanks for stopping by the blog.


  3. Susan

    Great colours! Yes, a review would be nice…….in your spare time of course haha


  4. Nat

    Aubergine, is hard to achieve, but yours is really beautiful! I’ve got some used madder somewhere in my dye basket. I must try it one day. Thanks for the books reference. I’ve got Rebecca Burgess’s book, but not the other.


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