@kimmiechem2 came by the stand this last Saturday so I could take a photo of her hat knit from a Cochineal dyed yarn and her two scarves that were knit from Indigo overdyes; the teal was Indigo over Weld and the blue with pink accents was Indigo over Cochineal. Lovely, lovely work.
A close up of the basket weave scarf.
Not a knitter me, but I like to see what others have done with wool from the sheep that I raise and with the yarn that I've dyed. That's why I do what I do.
Also it's an exciting learning experience for to me to see how knitters put colors together; as she holds her scarf over yarn she buys for future projects: a Weld, an Osage/Logwood and a more purple Indigo overdye of Cochineal.
Thank you. And it's really fun to meet people from Twitter; it feels like you're meeting celebrities.
The War of the Reds
In 1869, ... German chemists working at the Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik, or BASF (an aniline and soda manufactory in Baden, near the French border), isolated alizarin, the principal coloring agent of madder, and determined its structure. ... To say that this synthetic red was a success is an understatement. By 1872, synthetic alizarin, manufactured by the German chemical firms of BASF, MLB (Meister, Lucius, and Bruning), and Bayer, represented 50 percent of the total manufacture of dyes in Germany, and was sold in vast quantities throughout Europe and elsewhere. Synthetic alizarin production ruined the traditional cultivation of natural madder in Holland, Alsace, and France in less than fifteen years. In 1881, the French district of the Midi produced more than half the world's madder; in 1886, it sold none. It is interesting to note that the success of German synthetic red and the collapse of the natural-red industry in France occurred in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, and was therefore seen as a highly political event. However, companies in Switzerland and elsewhere also enthusiastically produced synthetic dyes and dyed textiles, for the market for them was insatiable.
Aniline Dyes Oust Cochineal Reds
A fierce competition now arose among English and German chemists to discover new coloring agents, spurred by the extraordinary boom in the textile industry in general. In 1857, the Englishman Peter Griess discovered a new type of diazotization reaction. The series of aniline dyes derived from this process is countless.
In 1878, a red aniline color for wool was developed. (August Wilhelm von) Hofmann analyzed the dye and published its means of manufacture. The energetic German factories launched into low-cost poppy and scarlet reds that ousted the expensive cochineal from the wool-dyeing industry.
Until this point, the synthetic dyes easily dyed protein (animal) fibers, such as wool and silk, but were applied to cotton only with difficulty. However, in 1884, a dye called Congo red was invented that worked well on cotton. The market for cochineal reds promptly collapsed, although Armenian cochineal, which was extraordinarily abundant, was less affected than the others. The synthetic dyes offered lower cost, greater colorfastness, and more consistency. What was lost with the disappearance of natural madders, indigos, and cochineals? The variability of the natural mixtures, their subtle nuances, and a certain quality of unreproducible individuality: the touch of the dyer's hand.
Colors, The Story of Dyes and Pigments, F. Delamare and B. Guineau 1990; translated from the French by S. Hawkes 2000. The italics are mine.