The first photo, being, of course, the “after” photo. The mordant- a chemical that you soak the wool in before putting it in the dye bath- was cream of tartar and alum. The cochineal- tiny little red bugs that live on cactus- were soaked and steeped for three days prior. We bought ours from Solvang Spinning and Weaving, in case you need some bugs, too. We were able to dye three pounds of wool with only four ounces of bugs, and the bugs seem to have plenty of dye left.
E and R dyed with me- it was a lovely day. I didn’t look up mordant or method for cotton, so no fabric came out of this dye day. E did dye two silk scarves- the first came out deep crimson, the second, put in at the end, a pale rose. R was quite please with the new, over dyed color of the Lamb’s Pride.
I have always thought that natural dyes were a PITA and not worth the extra step of mordanting. I am on record as saying that I. Was. Wrong. Cochineal is completely, totally worth it. The red is complicated and luminous. It is a blue toned red, which is what I prefer. I have to take another look at this.