Dyeing to colour

I have log admired those fibre artists who only buy white or natural coloured yarns and dey all the colours they use. I have long said I would never be one of those people...well that might just change. We had to cancel the second half of our spring break plans, after our son was accidentally exposed to a child who had chicken pox. So rather than being out and about this spring break we have been homebound. I have been promising the students from my Raglan dye class 2 other colours and the webmaster of the Cambridge Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers Guild photos of dyeing for the website. I started by re-reading the relevent parts of The Dyer's Garden, Natural Dye Instruction booklet and Natural Color, over my morning coffee.
Dying is reletively simple, see basic instructions here.
I started with logwood, dyeing handspun wool from Rogned, and commercial yarn I promised to dye my students.
The logwood chips were measured at 50% of the weight of the wool when dry. I soaked the wool while the logwood was simmering for an hour. I let the dye bath cool, then added the soaked wool and brought to a simmer again. The wool was then carefully rinsed out and hung to dry.
I started a second dye bath for the remaining commercial cotton. I could tell the initial results were extremely dark, when dyeing yourself remember the dyed materials always look darker when still wet. I used the same logwood chips to create a second dyebath using the same method as the first, but this dye bath would be lighter for two reasons this was the second use of the same logwood chips and I would be dyeing a much larger weight of yarn in the second batch. Half of the remaining commercial yarn went in this dyebath and again simmered for an hour, was rinsed and hung to dry.
I made a third dye bath and also am soaking the logwood chips in some more water in a container to make a fourth dye bath. The second dye bath was exhausted after dyeing the rest of the commercial yarn, but I look forward to testing the third and fourth baths at a later date.
I had so much fun with the logwood, I decided the next day to use some of my madder. Note, both natural dyes used in these two days came from The Mulberry Dyer, whom I highly recommend (page down to see their natrual dyestuffs. Madder is a bit more fiddley than logwood, so I read up on madder dyeing, again over my morning coffee. At this point my son started referring to The Dyer's Garden as "your tiny book". He's a cutie pie and the main advantage of dyeing during these days, is I could spend most of my time with him and occassionally check on the dyeing process.
The madder dye bath took two stages, as suggested by The Dyer's Garden, I measured out the same weight of madder as I had dry yarn, began soaking the mordanted yarn, and began heating the madder and water over the stove. I did just use our tap water for all this dyeing as we did not have still water around the house in this quantity. It is recommended that you not boil madder, but rather simmer it at 180 degrees. I do not have a dedicated thermometer for dyeing so I had to go with what the stove did, the results weren't great, but they weren't disasterous either. The first set of water was strained, the madder root was added back to the original pot, and was simmered/boiled again for an hour. I added this lot to the first and had enough of a dye bath for the two skeins I was dyeing, this time some hanspun from Julian and more of the commercial yarn from the dey class.
Again the dyebath was allowed to cool before putting the wool it, it was brough to a simmer and left for another hour. Our gas stove in the dye kitchen is not great, so it was sometimes a simmer, sometimes a boil and it went out once all together. The book also suggested leaving the yarn in the dyebath at least over night. This first lot was then rinsed and left to dry. The dye bath was kept and I expect I will put the wool back in to try for a deeper shade.
The remining madder was used for the same process and I dyed half of what was left from the dye class, but I will leave this set in the dye bath for an entire 24 hours after the heat was turned off. Genvieve donated a more than generous amoutn of yarn for the class, far more than we could dye in an afternoon over the camp fire. My attempt to control the temperature of the madder dye bath consistent over a gas stove makes me wonder at the obvious ability of medeival dyers to keep a consistent temparature for dyeing large quantiaties of goods over an open fire. It was definintely a skill to be mastered, though I suppose the same goes for cooks and cooking as well.
I am far from having a stock of all colours, or being an expert, but my lvoe of dyeing has been rekindled (pardon the pun) and I may yet someday only buy white or natural coloured yarn and dye my own palette. I still have a lot of commercially dyed yarn to use before I need to make such a decision! I invite all those who know me and are intersted in dyeing yarn, fleece, fabric using natural dyes to contact me. You are welcome in my dye kitchen any time.