My primary research of photos taken at St Catherine's Fort in Tenby have given me some flashes of bright red in my palette, as seen in the peeling paint and exposed brickwork below. This gave me a great excuse to try dyeing with madder! 

As it was my first attempt I bought ground extract from Wild Colours so I could get an idea of the range of colour and what was needed. I learnt that the end colour is dependant on temperature and pH, and so wanting a scarlet red, I added half a teaspoon of chalk and kept the dye bath at 60 degrees.

As well as dyeing a skein of yarn, I dip dyed a length of knitted fabric. The yarn was mordanted with alum and the length of fabric wasn't, you can see the difference in colour below. The mordanted yarn is a much deeper red than the non-mordanted. I also dip dyed an alum mordanted skein of grey yarn in the exhaust bath, which resulted in a pale red.

Burns, R. 2018.  Madder 7 . Photograph.

Burns, R. 2018. Madder 7. Photograph.

Going forwards I will use chopped and dried madder root to gain a better understanding of the plant and it's behaviour. 

Meanwhile, my homegrown madder plants are looking healthy, but it will still be at least two years before harvest. here's an update on my home grown madder - it's growing well but it will be at least two years before harvest! Once they are a bit more established i plan to move these plants into raised planters so the roots can establish without them taking over the garden, as per the advice in this blog post on Wool Tribulations.