Madder: the growing and the dyeing

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I have been growing madder for some years now without having enough to use for dye. It had to be transplanted when we moved house.  Then, I heard so much about how invasive it can be, I planted it in a half wine barrel and it really hasn’t enjoyed this spot.  I think people who find it invasive must have more rainfall or better watering practices, or perhaps all of the above and better soil. Then, it is amazing how many critters want to eat it despite the leaves being the texture of rough sandpaper!  I decided to divide and transplant finally.

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Here is the crop. Not too bad, but really, not a huge mass of roots.

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My beloved put three new garden beds in that will get dependable summer watering and generously agreed to one of them being a dye bed. When I had divided one of the rhubarb plants, re planted the resulting crowns and set out the new madder bed, I had a few roots left. I consulted my various manuals and washed the roots.

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Then, out with the dye blender (my parents scored this for me in their travels through second hand shops)!

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It went into the dye bath looking orange, but as I heated it, it became a deeper and deeper shade.

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At this stage, I put some silk embroidery thread in, in a zippered mesh pouch that has seen a lot of dye baths since it left the Body Shop and ended up empty in an op shop (and thence came home with me). This turned out not to be enough to keep out all the particles of madder!

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My goodness! I think this is the red I have been promised from madder!

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One skein dyed quite evenly and one streakily and both will be gorgeous in their own ways.

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After this point, I strained the dye bath through two layers of nylon next curtain, added mordanted grey fleece and got the kind of orange that madder often gives in an exhaust (to me, at any rate).  And now, I can’t wait to see if I can really get this madder thriving!  For other bloggers whose madder growing and dyeing is inspirational I suggest An Impartation of Colour and Jenny Dean and Deb McClintock (so many posts to read from Deb!).

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7 Comments

Filed under Dye Plants, Natural dyeing

7 responses to “Madder: the growing and the dyeing

  1. Lovely colour!
    I am planning to add madder to my garden as an experiment – I’m afraid we probably have too much rain and not enough warmth – opposite problem to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic color!! I am going to have to try this as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Maz
    I am just about to depart Adelaide, but this am (2 Aug), was at Blackwood Red Cross shop and they offered me unused, but old, pure cotton sheets, they still have some left. (I didn’t take them all 😀). I thought you might be interested if it’s near your part of town, for dyeing or even using as sheets!
    Leonie

    Like

  4. christicarterphotography

    Some serious ‘madder envy’ going on over here ….. !!

    Like

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