After my first harvest back in July, the woad rapidly re-grew. Apparently it is best to harvest woad before the end of October as the pigment in it loses its strength after this time, so as October drew nearer I was beginning to panic slightly. I had no fleece left to dye and, as I was in the middle of a felt making frenzy for my first ever felt exhibit, no time to spend another day dyeing.
But I really didn’t want to waste all that lovely woad that I had grown, and I thought perhaps I could partially prepare the woad and then keep it in storage. So I got in touch again with Caroline who advised my best bet would be to dry the woad. Luckily,
the new house we had just started renting came equipped with a very good wood burning stove, and as the nights grew colder we had another good reason to light a fire.
It took a good 3-4 weeks, a very pungent house, and an extremely tolerant partner and kids, before I was satisfied the leaves were properly dried and ready for storage. The first photo shows the leaves in front of the burner – I started off with 5 full wooden crates of leaves (not sure how many kilos, I didn’t weigh), but by the time I took the photo the volume of the leaves had already significantly reduced and I was only using three crates.
I now have a few jars of crispy dried woad, which I can use to start another dye vat whenever I feel like it!