I launched my second attempt at natural dyeing two weeks ago. I had some madder roots that I was waiting play with. Then my sister -- showing fabulous creativity and thoughtfulness -- had given me a container of dried cochineal bugs for Christmas. When she visited us in Vermont after the holidays, the timing was perfect.
This was tapas-style dyeing, with small experimental snippets rather than yarn enough for a project. We prepared 10 g mini-skeins cut from the leftovers of the last dyebaths, which enabled us to test the cochineal and madder dyebaths on yarns in the following hues: uncolored, canary yellow, golden yellow, and caramel.
It was a wildly uncontrolled, open air, over-the-campfire, time-consuming dyeing adventure. And the results? The madder yielded a light persimmon color. Paler than we wanted, and not quite as rusty-red, but quite pretty and complex. The cochineal, on the other hand, oddly gave us a dark, dull yellow, and only the scraps of yarn that tied the skeins turned the expected pink. There were so many things that could've gone wrong that I can't even begin to diagnose our problems, but it was really, really weird.
Here's a closer look: the two middle yarns show the original marigold colors, and each is flanked by samples overdyed by cochineal, on the left, and madder, on the right. The colors came out a little flat in these photos. In real life, they're much richer and more lively.
The whole enterprise feels like alchemy!!