Dyeing The Colour Wheel

Early in November I’m attending a workshop and I’m to bring 1/16th yard of each of the colours in the colour wheel. So Friday I got out the dye equipment and got to work.DSCN0065To begin with….. Although I dye my own wool and do my own colour planning, I am by no means knowledgable when it comes to colour theory. In spite of trying, my eyes glaze over when someone starts discussing  split complementary harmony or analogous or tetrardic harmony………I rely heavily on the fact that I am a visual learner, and end up making my decisions based on what looks right to me. (and very often rehook what I’ve done because it DOESN’T look right to me). I’d probably save myself a lot of time and effort if I just followed the rules….but what’s the fun in that? So I even had to hunt for a colour wheel to refresh  my mind on the colours I needed to dye. Perhaps I’ll finally remember what they are and their order having done this exercise.DSCN0066

I began by going through all my dyes to come up with as many single dyes as I could that might give me one of the colours I needed. I don’t have  colour swatches to refer so this was the simplest method for me. Starting at the top and going clockwise, I chose Pro Chem Sun Yellow, (I thought plain yellow was too ‘lemony’) The pen indicates yellow orange (don’t have a dye that colour) Cushing Orange, Pro Chem Poppy Red for orange red, Majic Carpet Red, and under it Pro Chem Magenta (ended up using magenta), Majic Carpet Red Violet, Cushing Purple, Majic Carpet Blue Violet, both Cushing and Majic Carpet Blue (ended up using Majic carpet) , for blue green I thought (whatever that cushing dye is or Pro Chem Mallard Green …..neither of which worked) I thought bottle green would be a true green (wrong), and the last pen  in the place for yellow green .DSCN0068

Next I checked my stash to see what colours I might already have…..I found yellow green…..orange……yellow……and yellow orange.DSCN0069That left me with 8 colours to dye.

Most were straight forward. In checking “bottle green” I found it was distinctly blue green…..so I used it for that. The mallard Green was actually the closest to a forest green, but still a bit blueish, so I added a wet toothpick of  yellow to the dye bath. (I drop a bit of the dye bath on a paper towel to check colours before dyeing).

DSCN0072Here are my 8 colours on the line .DSCN0071

You can’t see the colours very well in this shot, but I like the look of them against the trees.


Here’s my colour wheel  ready for the workshop. (although I may dye a different orange….the one from my stash is pretty dark)

I dyed each piece in the microwave….so much faster when dyeing small pieces. I used 1/16th tsp of dye to  1 CBW (cup of boiling water) for the dye bath and added vinegar to each dye bath itself. (probably could have used less in many cases…as sometimes not all the dye was taken up when the wool was at a satisfactory colour) The dye bath is added to boiling water in a microwave safe bowl (I have some designated plastic bowls for microwave dyeing) and set to cook for about 5 minutes . (longer as needed)

…..not scientific, not perfect, but fun and quick. (the whole dye session took me about an hour) and I love the results.


Now to see how they are used at the workshop.

Happy Halloween everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

12 thoughts on “Dyeing The Colour Wheel

  1. Hi Elizabeth, this is exactly how I feel about dyeing and also the way I dye. When you have to start writing the recipes it takes all the fun out of it. Your colours I like very much and they do look good hanging against the trees. Dyed fleece looks good hanging on the trees too. Enjoy the workshop.

    • Jan I have to admit I record what I’ve used when I end up using a variety of dye colours, so I can dye more if need be, I must have the messiest dye book ever (full of scratch outs additions and retries).

  2. Absolutely brilliant Elizabeth, you have such a clarity of thought and way s of showing us how to . I am in awe. Great blog. X

  3. thanks for sharing your experiment with us. need to get into the dye pot sometime soon, but may try your microwave method. hugs. enjoy the workshop.

    • Wendie, it’s Wanda Kerr’s microwave method, I can’t take any credit for it, but I find it very handy for small pieces of wool. Hope you’re all settled in your new home. Loved the shots of your wool wall.

  4. Hope you enjoy the class. I took a class with Sheila Klugschied and it was great. We dulled a second set as well using the compliments. Then I did the same exercise using Lincoln’s dye book. I used black to dull this time. Then I dyed a grey scale. It’s great to show students and as an aid for my own dyeing. I hooked a little geometric design with some of the wool and that’s my sampler piece. It’s more fun when dyeing with a group. We used pure red,yellow and blue and made the other colours by mixing the colours. Now I can read a formula and guess better at how it will turn out. Still need lots of practice though. Look forward to seeing your results. Vivien

    • I’m sure you enjoyed your class with Sheila ,Vivien. She is certainly an expert at dyeing wool. The course I dyed this wool for is not about dyeing at all, but rather on embellishment. It remains to be seen how the wool will be used.

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