Monday, March 12, 2012

Robin of Bird in the Hand Primitives made a comment on my blog the other day when I asked the readers if there was anything they wanted me to talk about.  I'm really glad a couple of you took me up on the question because now I can try to give you want you want to read.

 Robin said she had recently purchased two dye books on e-bay ....."in the hopes of learning dyeing methods and creating just the right colors I want for certain designs...however, color planning is a challenge for me because of so many hues and textures...I would love if you posted some thoughts and tried and true tips for color planning ...Is that something that came natural or was it learned ? ........"

I have had some success stories where the wool came out exactly like I'd hoped  (dumb luck for sure) and then have tried to achieve a certain color for a rug and it didn't turn out as I'd hoped.  Yet the wool goes in my stash and usually is perfect for another project.  The wonderful Bev Conway generously shared some dye recipes she uses on the wool colors which I always purchased.  While the colors turned out nicely, my gold didn't turn out like the rich old gold she dyes.  

There are a lot of variables which influence the color and water is a very important factor.  Bev lives in Vermont where the water must be magnificent and I live in Delaware using well water.  That also makes a difference in the dye results because well water and city water with chemicals will influence the project.  And, Bev has even said that she can tell a difference in her dye results between drought season or good water level season.  Some people even suggest that using a stainless steel pot vs. an enamel coated pot makes a difference.  So there is a very good likely hood that the colors we see in a book of samples may not quite turn out exactly as we see it on wool samples, pictures in a book or on the computer screen.

I have a teacher/friend who can add color (dye by eye) to make the wool exactly what she wants (Lynne, if you're reading this, yes, I'm talking about you) and I don't have the skill to do that.  Obviously I lack the true understanding of color manipulation and am always afraid of adding a little more of the wrong color.

These are the wool pieces I plan to experiment with and there is about half a yard total there. 

 Robin indicated she can never find the right grey green,  sage, or dark celery.  So I have taken a picture of some wool I dyed to see if that is what she is looking for.   Meanwhile this wool is soaking until we can determine what color wool strikes her fancy and then I'll do the experiment.  

So check in tomorrow to see the next installment.


  1. Loved this post and can not wait to see the results.Hugs,Jen

  2. Oh yes !! I can't wait to see the transformation !! I am fascinated with wool over dyeing !!
    Thank you for doing this post !!

  3. You know I always love a good dye session! I could use some fun in the dye pots right now!

  4. Saundra ~
    Can't wait for part two!
    Hugs :)

  5. Saundra,It's fun to dye but I have yet to get the same result twice. Your exactly right, water,pans,and wool have a result on how your dyed wool turns out.I can hardly wait to see your results!

  6. *****1) water is the supreme ruler in successful dye sessions.
    therefore use the cheapest bottled water that you can purchase at your local supermarket, walmart, etc.
    2) golds and blues are the hardest to home dye, however you still can get great results. use any of the purple or plum dyes to substitute for the browns in gold formulas. this will add depth and softness that
    using brown will not obtain.
    3) blues are seen differently by each of us, but remember that it can advance quickly in a rug. dull down with any in the orange dye family.
    3) sage green can be readily obtained with cushing dyes...silver grey green, khaki, or khaki drab. start with 1/32 tsp into one cup boiling h2o and gradually keep adding until color is obtained.
    4) remember that wet wool is darker than dry wool.
    5) to break up the flakes in acid dyes add a teaspoon of salt to the cup of boiling h2o. this will take care of the particles.
    6) stone soup method of dyeing is a great way for beginners to get their respective "feet" wet and also for the advanced to have a great selection of colors.
    7) use good dyes to get good results.
    have fun!

  7. *****p.s...another important element in consistant results is to follow the directions of the given formula. an example are the woolley fox formulas...when they write to mix the dyes in one cup
    h2o and for the color results to use only 3/4 cup or 1/4 only as written. learned that the
    hard way once with using the entire cup and getting another color altogether.


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