My bluefaced leicester wool for spinning is coming to an end, so the last few hanks to be dyed was firstly, turmeric, (in wood chips rather than powder form) sappanwood (Japan) which is a very red bark, but gave orange, and redyeing some indigo with the artificial dye.
The turmeric came out a bright yellow, cream of tartar (for softening the wool) and white vinegar for fixing the colour.
Sappanwood, though giving a deep dark red dye in the pot, and turning the muslim cloth into purple; the wool actually came out as orange with the added cream of tartar and vinegar..
But the indigo was the most exciting.... I had dyed some wool last year but without any special chemical which you need to fix it, it had turned blue but the dye came off the wool on your hands.
Tracking down some washing soda, (its all cillit bang out there, the cleaner that must take the skin off your hands looking at the adverts!) which I needed, though you can use some form of wood ash, I also got Spectralite, which does some magic as well in the dyepot - well beyond my means of understanding - and I was ready to experiment.
Indigo is a fascinating natural dye, in this country we used woad, first year plants have the strongest dye colouring but they have to be soaked (in the olden days in urine) to release the colour.
So this is what happened in the dyepot... both agents Spectralite and washing soda was added to the water, and foamed away quite happily, the dark blue wool already wet was added, then the colour started to disappear so that eventually it went back to its original cream. The water had turned a pale green, when it came to the simmering point I took the saucepan outside and hung the hanks of wool on the washing line. Slowly from the pale creamy-green they turned blue, due to the oxidisation that was taking place. Magic.