Friday, March 11, 2016

Dyeing with Madder

Madder is one of those dyes that is supposed to give red, but in my experience, not very often. After reading some books and watching a few videos, I learned that if chopped madder root is soaked, and the water discarded then it supposedly gives better reds because it removes more tannins that are concentrated in the bark of the root, and in addition, adding calcium carbonate (chalk) is also supposed to give better reds, especially if done after the madder has been chopped during heating. So I started with dried chopped madder root.
I soaked about 5 oz of madder root in water with no heating for 24 hours and poured off and kept the liquid. I did this twice and then chopped the madder in fresh water using an old blender. The chopped madder went into a stocking and then was brought slowly to boiling over a period of about 2 hours. I also used the soak water from before the madder was chopped to dye a skein of wool yarn that had been pre-mordanted with alum, which is on the far left in the picture below. The other skeins in order were pre-mordanted with alum, copper and iron. Ironically, the reddest skein is the one that was dyed in the soak water before the madder was chopped.

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