I was reading a book recently (Shalloons and Kerseys, Aspects of the 18th Century woollen and worsted trade in Halifax. Ruth Bean, 1979) and came across a diary entry from a local farmer regarding dyeing the woollen cloth he had woven, dated January 10th 1775. The entry is as follows:
to dey black worsted an asortment for 2 peses. In the first place bunch up your wersted very hard and put it in a Tub with hot Water but not scour it, and to stay till almost Cold. Then take 14 lb of Logwood, 4 lb of Shumack and boyle them up an hour, then cole down your lead, and not to lett it boyle at all but keep it quite hot, for the space of 2 hours, but in the middle of the Time take up your Worsted and turn the Strings. For the saddening part take your Worsted up and cole it straight, then take 6lb of copperas melt it in your liquer, then put your Worsted in for the space of an hour, then take it up and cole it very well and then turn the stings and in the Time of Cooling boyle up your Liquer a little, then cool it down that it will not boyle for the space of an hour, putting your Worsted in as before. For the last wett take 1/2lb of raspt Fustick and boyle it in your liquor very well wilst your worsted is cooling, then put in your worsted when it is cooled down for the space of an hour, then take it oute and cole it before you hang it by all Night, 4oz Tallow to put in with the Fustick. You must observe that your Lead never boyle, when the Worsted is in and also that you lett it hang all Night and take it to a Stream to wash it.
This was written by a man who was a farmer and also a weaver, in Halifax this was a common combination at the time. His farm was part way along a hillside with a stream in the valley bottom. He would weave and dye the cloth pieces and then carry them into Halifax to sell on. He clearly had access to buy large quantities of imported dyestuffs, then had to also make time for such a laborious dyeing process.
Now does anyone fancy the challenge of recreating this?!