Here are the results of my latest attempts to dye with madder:
So, I am no closer to understanding how to get a true red from madder. It may be that with alum, you just don't get a true red, more of an orange based red. Maybe I need to change my mordant? Possibly it's the water from my tap and I need to check the Ph and/or mineral content there? Or maybe I'm doing something wrong? I kept the temperatures low, and according to my book if it had got too high the color would have gone dull, which it certainly did not, so I'm pretty sure that wasn't my problem. Maybe madder just gives you an orange based red and I need to accept that?
The yarn ended up fulling a bit in the dye pot as well, which is rather to be expected but a major pain to deal with. Since there are bit of madder root floating around in there too, they got all stuck to the yarn and it's been no fun trying to wind the stuff into balls. Maybe less stirring next time? Though if I stir less, I'm not sure I would get such an even color on the yarn.
I was quite surprised by the color I ended up with on the silk - it's a really pretty champagne/orange, which I like but was not at all what I was expecting to get (the silk did not go in the iron modifier). The silk will probably get used for some tablet woven garters, which will look lovely in that color. I'm guessing to get red, or even just brighter color on silk, you need to either use a different mordant or leave it in the dye longer. Or possibly use a different dye altogether.
And as a total random aside, here are my first six attempts are making lampwork beads. The seventh bead got stuck on the mandrel and had to be smashed with a hammer. The process is quite exciting, what with the large flame and all, if a little scary. Hopefully I will get the hang of the technique well enough to make enough beads for my paternoster project. These will probably end up on a Viking bead swag (or garland as I prefer to call them):