Earlier in the year I planted seeds for Bull's Blood beets, as well as a lot of other dye plants like coreopsis and amaranth. These little guys are supposedly good for dye, but the roots are so tiny they're hardly worth harvesting to eat unless you plant a metric ton of them. About three weeks ago I went into the garden and pulled up several handfuls of beets specifically for the leaves, but at the time I wasn't really sure what I would do with them.
Most of what I've read on the Dye-Happy yahoo group and in the books I've got said beets will start out a lovely purplish-pinkish-reddish, but eventually this will fade to a brown in much the same way most berry dyes do. I wish I'd read Rachael's Dye-Happy post about boiling things before I got started this morning, because it would have kept me from getting brown liquid that looked like strong tea, rather than the purplish stuff I started with! That's exactly what I did, and I've been wracking my brain trying to come up with a reason for the color change. That was the one thing I didn't think of, but I'm glad she said something about it in her recent poke berry post.Whether Bull's Blood beets fade to brown under normal circumstances I shall never know -- at least not until next time I plant some more! I was very upset by my suddenly brown beet dye, so I threw in five packets of Black Cherry KoolAid (dissolved in two cups of hot water so it wouldn't streak). I've taken pictures at various points along the way, though I didn't take any of my little acrobatic/ballet pas de deux with two chairs and two of Clotho's bobbins -- that was an interesting experience! Skeinwinders must be wonderful inventions. Certainly much less fuss and fiddle involved, I'd think.
I feel a little guilty for cheating with the KoolAid, but I think the resulting mix of brown and red came out much nicer than either would have been on their own. Next time, hopefully I'll remember Rachel's sage advice on not boiling things because they turn brown!
Here are the pictures: (Dye-ary = diary... get it? hee!) http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v64/redflight/Dye-ary/