There was a very exciting moment in the garden last week. I was digging out madder roots hoping to create enough space to plant Japanese indigo seedlings (as you do). I found a substantial chrysalis and moved it out of harm’s way. Then a bit later, a movement caught my eye, and a large moth was emerging from the chrysalis right before my eyes. What a privilege! Naturally I wasn’t going to waste the madder root. I had some wool cold mordanting in a bucket, so I processed the roots and created a vat. While I was at it, I did the same with the carrot tops from our farmers’ market.
I ended up with quite a red colour from the first madder bath and two orange shades from the exhaust baths, as well as a nice yellow from the carrot tops.
Plus, the joy of watching the moth emerge. I think it might be a native hawk moth. Back in this post, I found I rather wonderful caterpillar in the madder, and I have found them several times since. I’ve also seen similar chrysalises (?) in the garden. Pisstkitty, a generous and regular reader thought it might be a native hawk moth, Hippotion scrofa, the Coprosma hawk moth. I thought she was right then, and I think this is the moth form of the same creature. Glorious.
When a moment arises and there is an opportunity for dyeing, I dye, my friends, I dye. One such moment came a little while back when we had lovely organic carrots from our friends’ farm… and they came with lovely organic carrot tops, of course.
Fixing carrot top dye requires alum, but I am well prepared. I have sheep fleece sitting in cold alum solution in buckets in my driveway.
Into the dye pot they went! This went so well that I am doing it again as I write.
In the mean time, undyed fleece from the same sheep, Viola the pale grey crossbred, is also being prepared for spinning, because… I have an ambitious plan that will require some more undyed yarn…
Having a hank of silk embroidery thread that has already been through a long, cold alum soak has been going to my imagination. Usually when I think about local dyes I am thinking about eucalypts, but one recent weekend I went to the farmer’s market and when I cut the tops from these treasures, I was struck by the urge to dye with them.
Into the pot they went without delay.
Once the water went in, I saw there was a passenger. Can you see it (her, probably)?
I did get her out of the pot eventually, and yes, with a long handled wooden spoon.
Here, a photo of the dyer reflected in her pot, a day later.
The thread is a greenish shade of yellow. I have plans already!