Anneke arrived a few days with a suitcase full of the precious stuff. A big bottle of Pernod. A lot of chocolate. I had to clean the fridge spotlessly and dedicate a special drawer to the mountain of cheese from Amsterdam and Italy. Now that is the way to start a good new year. Hiro baked away in the new oven and we are all suffering from lasagne hangovers. The dogs are walked and curled up in their respective chairs. Such domesticity.
After using the dried roots, fresh roots, powdered and finely chopped the verdict is in:
Finally chopped is easier to use and you seem to get every last drop of pigment out of the roots.
The best technique for boiling down the madder is to make a fine woven and strong cotton bag and place the madder in that and put that in the boiling water. It is physically exhausting and dangerous to be pouring boiling water through fine cheesecloth over and over. It is also messy. The madder does double in size when it is boiled so don't fill the bag. It will explode. I used to use a silk bag but it just absorbed a lot of the pigment. After using it for years it was a gorgeous blood red before I retired it and used the silk as a lining for some project. Cotton will not absorb much of the madder pigment.
To get dark reds with aluminum you do have to mordant and dye mordant and dye a few times. It is not necessary to dry between dyes. I was mordanting at 5% weight of dry yarn.
I learned to warp twenty years ago on a large Japanese wooden warping drum from the early 20th century. I had two at the house but they never ran smoothly. Kids love to spin these things full throttle and they get broken easily. I found one in almost perfect condition in an attic of an old farmhouse in a neighbouring village a few weeks back. It took a few days to polish up and oil and repair and now it runs perfectly. The first project to get warped is a silk kimono obi. It can warp eight threads at a time. One rotation in 3.5 meters. The frame can warp about 70 meters evenly. How clever is this thing? You can warp 1200 threads in less than two hours.