FEEDBACK FRIDAY: This Week in Natural Dye Questions

This week: How much of a fresh madder root do you use??

Every week, we are emailed with questions from our natural dye community asking simple and complex questions that we thought might be worth sharing. Of course, all of your burning questions are answered by natural dyer in chief, Kathy Hattori, Founder of Botanical Colors.

Do you use the entire madder root? I have my own fresh and there’s a woody root with a vibrant coral vein running through it.

If your madder root is at least 2 years old (many growers say use 3-year old roots, but sometimes you can’t wait) and you want to harvest it you can gently dig up some of the roots, leaving part of the plant to regenerate. Trim off any thin,hairlike rootlets (the parts that are very thin with no center vein) and clean off excess dirt. The roots with the red or orange color are the parts you want to use and you can use the entire root piece – no peeling.  Some dyers like to soak their roots and drain off the resulting yellow color, but I like to soak the roots if they have dried, then chop them in a blender to form a slurry, and then create my dye vat using the root slurry.  For deepest colors, use 100% on the weight of fiber and depending on the strength of the root you have you can use more or less to achieve the colors you desire.