I’ve been growing madder long enough to have a good big patch now, and so it came to pass before the weather warmed too much, that I dug out an entire kilogramme of fresh madder root (yes, I weighed it once washed clean).
I didn’t dig out the whole patch and I did propagate more plants for the Guild while I was at it… and then came the washing.
It’s pretty exciting to think I can grow red dye in my very own garden!
Next stage, breaking up by hand or with secateurs, and then–
Then the dye bath… my trusty muslin from the ever delivering op shop lets me strain out all that ground up root.
And then… in with some wonderful soft handspun Tasmanian Cormo from the wonderful Kylie Gusset’s Tonne of Wool project.
In the interests of honesty, I confess that I broke all the rules AGAIN and boiled the madder vat AGAIN. And yet, red. My experience suggests that madder is not as fussy as every single dye book suggests. That I am so bad at keeping a dye vat below boiling point that I cannot be trusted. And that with fresh root it is best to dye a small quantity if you want really really red red, and then many exhaust baths will give orange and then coral and then peach if that’s what you’d like to have.
My goal with this–is to knit a beautifully soft and red beanie for one of my special sweethearts. But as knitting is going slowly at present it might be a little while!