I am an 18th-century reenactor. I dye wool yarn using ingredients and methods from the 18th century. This Instructable gives you directions on how to dye wool yarn using madder root giving a wonderful orangey-red color.
I recently purchased five pounds of madder root powder from the Monterey Bay Spice Company for the best price I have found yet. There are many company's that sell the powder and roots. If you buy the roots, you must grind them before using them.
The mordant chemicals can be purchased at your local grocery store. Sodium carbonate is the ingredient in Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster. You can find alum and cream of tartar in the spice section. The alum that I buy in bulk I believe is more potent than the stuff sold as spice. But, I have used it in a pinch.
Step 1: Preparing the wool yarn.
Do not tie too tightly or you will be tye-dying the yarn by accident.
Soak the yarn for at least 5 hours in a slightly soapy water. Since I like to use my hands to move the yarn around in the soak while soaking, I make sure that I remove all rings so the yarn doesn't get caught on them.
I use a ceramic baking sheet to hold the yarn in the water while it soaks.
Don't make the mistake of putting dry wool yarn into the dye bath. The color is absorbed in different strengths and you will end up with a color that is not uniform.