Not sure what I did wrong/right
It’s sort if one of the accepted truths of early medieval reenactment that a true black is impossible until the introduction of logwood ( a new world dye). This has always bothered me a bit because there are some very obvious blacks on several pieces of embroidery that predate logwood, most notably the Bayeux.
I almost got black without logwood when I was dyeing for the antependium, but my blue vat ran out and what I was convinced it needed was another couple of blue dips.
Three skeins came out mottled browner green, and three are definitely black black Blacketty black- that’s my commercially dyed black linen bag in the corner for comparison.
See, everyone makes mistakes, and a few months ago I made one. I set up an indigo bath wanting blues and greens to go with the dyeing I did last year. (Indigo and woad, btw, contain the same dye chemical, indigotin, but indigo is the commercially exploited dye because it contains more of the compound, so for authenticity purposes it’s fine to use indigo if you can’t get your hands on woad).
I did the bath the usual way, and it looked fine, except that as soon as I started dipping wool in it was obviously not right at all. Even after a single dip- and it often takes four or five to get decent colour- everything came out deep navy blue. The blue was so deep it obliterated the underlying yellows.
I tried to correct it, left it for a bit, added more spectralite, but nothing worked and in the end I reluctantly abandoned the bath.
After thorough washing and drying the skeins I had were not only too dark but the blue was very fugitive and came off over everything it came into contact with.
Now I could have just chalked it up to experience, but wasting wool bothered me. So on Monday I threw the six skeins into a dye bath with some odds and sods of leftover dyes- a handful of madder, a bit of walnut, and couple of oak galls I found when we went out for a walk- I thought that if was lucky I’d get a dark brown. Browns good, it’s almost as hard to dye a decent brown as it is to get black, but instead I got black.
And I’m not really sure how to repeat the experiment. I am, however, tempted to keep a skein on my person at events just to wave under the noses of the nay-Sayers.