Demonstrating Transitional Dyeing

On Tuesday, I was asked to give a demonstration of transitional wool dyeing at the Sunshine Rug Hooking meeting. Margaret Kennedy took photos and wrote an account of the process to send to members who were absent. She has kindly given me permission to share her pictures and information on my blog.

“Elizabeth Martel gave a practical and inspiring demonstration of Transitional Dyeing on Tuesday, March 30, 2015._3300087

Dye and Apply: The pastel outlining used Transitionally Dyed wool. Colours are all in the ‘light’ spectrum, yet with more interest than using all cream in the outline._3300077

Dye and Apply: Transitional Dyeing allows for enormous yet naturally blended variations. The corals and turquoise colors are great examples._3300076

Dye and Apply: Transitional Dyeing allows you to use up old scraps of wool. In this southern coast of England pictorial, Elizabeth used Hilda Haye’s wool and tweaked it to make the result spectacular._3300074


Gather together all the equipment on the table. Collect wool material, some that are ‘bleeders’ and will release their dye; others that are lighter in color and will take up the dye. You must have ’Givers and Takers’
In the first layer, alternate and partially overlap the ‘givers and takers’
In the second layer, follow the same technique, just put a light strip over the dark one in the first layer and continue.
You may have three or four layers_3300084

Squirt any dish liquid into a two-cup measuring cup. Add water and mix.
Gradually, and bit by bit, pour the soap mixture into the wool. With each addition, use your finger to press down and allow the wool to take up the water. Add only enough water that it reaches the surface. Too much water and the wool swims and the dyes become defuse and the dyed wool not ‘marbled’. Dump water out if you have too much. Put the lid on and Simmer for 15 minutes or until you are pleased with the bleeding and the colors created.
Then add vinegar and hot water. Simmer for 20 minutes to 1 hour, whichever school or faith you believe in_3300094

Remove the hot wool to another container


Add warm water to the wool and rinse. Be careful not to use cold water as it will shock the wool and harden it. i.e. felt it.
Hang the wool out to dry or put in the dryer with a towel until the wool is only partially dry. Then hang up to dry





The remarkable results of Tuesday’s Transitional Dyeing demo. ”

Thanks for the write up Margaret. This is one of my favourite ways to create interesting wool for highlights etc. and a good way to make  use of those bits and left over pieces. For this demo, I did cut pieces to fit my pan, but very often I use irregular shaped pieces that might not ever get used. It’s also a great way for those who haven’t tried dyeing to see how they like it without having to invest in any dyes.

Thanks for stopping by.


6 thoughts on “Demonstrating Transitional Dyeing

  1. Thank you both, Elizabeth and Margaret. You’ve distilled this information in a way that makes it easy to to understand. Love seeing that it can be done in an electric skillet.

    • I’d never done it in an electric frying pan before either, but since our meeting room offered no equipment other than an electrical outlet , that’s what I used…..and it worked out fine.

  2. Great results and explanation. Looks like fun. I’m wondering how this is different from transitional swatches and marrying wools together. Guess I’m confused with terminology.

    • Hi Vivien, I’m no expert on the terminology, but my understanding of transitional swatches are those that over say 6 swatches begin with one colour and gradually each swatch changes so that the last is another colour. By marrying wool together, my understanding is that several closely related colours are put in a pot together (with synthropol or soap of some sort,) so that they all bleed colour and end up more closely related, since they are now all sharing dyes (the same basic process that I used, but stirring is used to distribute the dye in the water to all the wool.) Hope this helps.

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