What’s the Madder? Dyeing with Madder Root

Last year at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, I purchased a natural dyeing starter kit from Earth Guild.  I am enchanted with natural dyeing, so I thought this would be a great way to get started.  I decided to try dyeing with madder root.

I soon found out that madder root is tricky.  Many factors can influence the final outcome: soil, age of roots, temperature of the dye bath (too hot will pull out the browns shades), using whole roots or ground roots and hardness of your water.  If your water is too soft, some dyers recommend adding calcium carbonate to the dye liquid.

Here’s my process for dying with madder root:

At first I soaked the whole roots in a large glass container for about two days.  Then I poured off the liquid to remove the brown hues.  Since I was refreshing the water, I decided to chop up the roots using an old coffee bean grinder; it works great even on wet roots. I borrowed a large grain sock from my husband’s beer making equipment and stuffed the ground up roots inside.  My previous experiments have taught me to be careful about what goes into the dye pot with roving.  Otherwise, you will spend a lot time picking out pieces of root debris.  Again, I let the liquid stew for several days.  Finally, I added my corriedale roving to the dye pot.

Since my previous adventures with natural dyeing have resulted in varying shades of yellow, even thought the package predicted shades of red or orange (see eucalyptus post), I decided not to mordant the wool. If I did mordant the wool, I may have gotten stronger red tones.  In the end, I am happy with my results……no yellow hues!


Corriedale roving dyed with Madder Root

Corriedale roving dyed with Madder Root



1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Bonnie Lease said,

    YAY!!!! No YELLOW!

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