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colour me happy

October 15, 2017

taking 100 grams of silk hankies

which are oh so soft!

separating them into six bundles

starting with home-grown madder root

which I clean with an old toothbrush

 chop up in an old blender

and dyed one bundle in the first dye pot

information tells us that the first dye extraction brings out the yellow

here the first dyeing is on the left and a second, separate vat and clean silk is on the right

there is a slight difference, the second vat is a little redder

the roots were soaked overnight, kept at a low simmer for 2 hours and then drained

the silk was dyed for 1.5 hr. at a low heat

and I’ve dried the roots to use again

when you grow your own dye material, weed and water it for 3 years

and then clean it with a toothbrush

it is wise to use every last drop of colour

next is pomegranate – just the rind

enjoy the seeds, they are good sprinkled in a salad

you can freeze the rind until there is enough to dye with

it is a strong dye so you don’t need too much

you get a strong yellow – the camera couldn’t catch these colours

adding an iron modifier to the yellow gives a beautiful mossy green

careful with the iron, too much can damage the silk

add a little at a time

  when it reaches the colour you want, remove it from the dye bath and rinse well

next – a lovely pot of cochineal

some of the bugs didn’t get strained out, they will drop out when spinning

then the two madder pots and the cochineal were combined

the colour is more subtle

and the handspun thrums from the scarf warp went into the pot as well

they will all be spun together

I’ve kept notes and samples so in six months I can do it all again

now for the big clean-up!


18 Comments leave one →
  1. vdbolyard permalink
    October 17, 2017 4:56 am

    delicious in every way. i like the smallness of this one woman operation, your precious madder crop, the lovely startling green amongst all the flowers, oh and just about everything. the final cochineal and madder mix really pleases my eyes as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 17, 2017 7:28 am

      Velma – of all the colours the cochineal/madder blend and the mossy green are my favorite. This spring I’ll dig the madder root again.


      • vdbolyard permalink
        October 18, 2017 2:13 pm

        we seem to be “on the same plane”. humm….


      • October 18, 2017 2:17 pm

        Velma – that time of year. Torrential rain and strong winds today, the second of three Pacific storms predicted for this week. Yuck!!


  2. trl710 permalink
    October 16, 2017 10:57 am

    Beautiful colors. I have never grown madder. I think I will plant it next year-does it need lots of sun? And I get a blechy beige from my pomegrants. I usually have lots on my tree and mine don’t taste very good. I think it’s not hot enough in my garden.


    • October 16, 2017 11:32 am

      Tobie – madder is best when it gets sun but over the years a tree has grown and now my madder gets mostly light shade. You have to let it grow for 3 years between each harvest so the roots get big enough. Of course the pomegranates I use are shipped in (from Mexico I think). I clean them down to just the rind and have always had a good yellow using alum mordant. They can be used as a tannin mordant and you can get a extract or powder from Maiwa – I have never used it but their dyes have always been reliable.


  3. Louisa permalink
    October 16, 2017 9:36 am

    Lovely colours! I know what you mean about the madder – it’s so much work to grow that you want to extract every drop of dye from it. I always wish I had 3 times as much so I could dig 1/3 of it each year.


    • October 16, 2017 10:08 am

      Louisa – I think that a deep respect comes from using materials, in any craft, that you are directly involved in growing or sourcing. Raising sheep/animals for fibre (or food), making paper, growing indigo etc. I once knew a potter who dug and used local clay! Now you just order your materials on line and through the thrums in the garbage, sad.


  4. October 16, 2017 2:59 am

    What colors! I’ll be looking forward to seeing the next steps!


  5. October 16, 2017 2:40 am

    beautiful colour results, I am a disaster at keeping notes, I always think I will remember stuff and then don’t.


    • October 16, 2017 8:25 am

      Debbie – you are not alone, that is why I make rough notes, years of frustrating forgetting!


  6. October 15, 2017 9:50 pm

    Beautiful colors. Pomegranate skins surprised me.


    • October 16, 2017 8:28 am

      Vladka – pomegranate is a very old, traditional dye. I love to eat them, they are expensive so it is nice to use them to dye with also.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Den permalink
    October 15, 2017 2:48 pm



    • October 15, 2017 3:11 pm

      Den – thank you. I like this kind of non-serious dyeing where the colours are always a joy and you don’t have to strain the brain measuring everything.


  8. emilysuzanna permalink
    October 15, 2017 2:17 pm

    A harvest of color…beautiful!


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