Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Mad about Madder

I've been playing with madder again! This time I used madder roots from the garden. I cleaned them off and poured water over them. After soaking for a few minutes, I noticed that the water was quite yellow. I poured that water off and put fresh water over it. After a day or two, I noticed that my pail of soaking madder was bubbling. As long as the pail had a bit of a fermenting happening, I was fine. After about two weeks though, it looked like something solid was forming. That was my cue to heat it slowly and buzz it through the blender a bit to make the larger roots into smaller bits. I kept the dye vat temps below 75C and mainly kept it at about 65C ( 150 F or so ). I also checked the PH and popped in a few pinches of baking soda to get the dye vat a tad more alkaline when it started looking brownish/orange. That dragged it back to the red side. The pic shows the carded batts to be a tad pinker than they really are. Still I'm happy with madder red. It is a pretty colour.

So far from madder I've gotten a range of colours including rusts, oranges, salmons, corals, reds, maroons, pinks and plums. Phew! That is a mighty versatile plant root!

Not only that but I've harvested a goodly number of madder seeds this fall that are almost dry and ready to share!

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Kitty Pictures

Such a cute kitty, wrapped up in wool.

No, he's not sleeping. He's terrorizing the fabric. He attacked it and held it between his front paws, while biting the wool and rapidly batting his hind paws on it. Not quite so cute, but he doesn't use his claws much when he does this. Just playing as he absolutely loves wool.. roving, fresh off the sheep and obviously, freshly woven fabric. I can't fault him there. I totally agree with him.

Now the cat is in my colour samples. I had them out to pet them and drool. It seems that he wanted to do that as well. The moment the wool was out of it's bag, the kitty was in the middle of it. I guess though, he is the right kitty for this family. I can't imagine having a kitty that hated wool.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Madder again

I believe in the dye gods. My friend Karen says they are dye goddesses. That I can believe most of the time, except when it is obvious that Loki has been up to tricks again. His antics show mainly when I start dyeing with madder. I of course decided to do up a quick madder dye vat ( is there a quick dye vat?) and was going to only do 60 grams of wool to try for that red. I've gotten 240 grams so far, using the exhaust vats and I think if I really wanted more pale pink, I could get another vat or two before it totally exhaust. The first round gave me the dark purple, which was a bright and scary fuchsia before it dried. I realized that my madder vat was on the alkaline side, so I started adding capfuls of vinegar until it tested more neutral. I know that an acidic madder bath will get you orange and I didn't want that. My second try gave me red, albeit a tad on the purple side with successive tries were pink. They are pretty colours and I was thrilled with the results.

After this weekend's rains, I was able to dig some fresh madder. One three year old plant and two year old one. The two year old plant was in a garden bed which was really well prepared. It had larger roots than the three year old plant. I rinsed them well and took off all the new shoots which were surprisingly orangy yellow. Then I soaked them for about 5 minutes and realized that the water was bright yellow. I quickly strained the roots and tossed that first soaking water. I really didn't want lots of yellow pigment. The plastic bucket that I'm using to soak them had a yellow stain where the water reached already. Of course, this is a holiday weekend here and all the stores are closed, so I'm unable to get more distilled water. I wanted to use distilled to get rid of any effect that chlorine might have, since our city water is well chlorinated. Instead I had to boil water which I've been told would remove much of the chlorine and the resulting soaking water is reddish now. Phew... I don't want another orange madder vat!