A New Dyeing Adventure

Yes, a new adventure, at least for me. Although I have been dyeing my own wool for several years now, I have never yet dyed yarn to whip a rug.  With the spotted/mottled background of the Twin Roses rug, I knew I’d never find yarn to go with it, and a solid colour I felt would distract from the mat.

So….I’m dyeing yarn for the first time. My first step was to watch Gene Shepherd’s video on the subject, and I picked up quite a few pointers which I’m sure will help in this process. The second was to consult with Ann Hallett, who also gave me help and suggestions for a successful result.  Then to buy the white wool yarn to be hooked. There is only one place in my town that carries an all wool yarn, and wouldn’t you know it, they had no white. A quick call to “The Purple Sock” a wonderful yarn shop in the village of Coldwater (about 15 miles from here) and I had found my wool.

The first tip I learned from Gene Shepherd, was to prepare the skein so that it will stay without becoming a bird’s nest in the dyeing process. (Tie it in at least 4 places.)


…..just divide the skein in three, and loop a piece of yarn around each so it is secure, but can spread out.

Now a time out……and an aside….I got to this point in the process, had my camera at my side to record the dyeing, and guess what….I forgot to take any pictures at all…..never thought of it again until the wool was dyed and lying on a towel!!  I was so annoyed at myself.


Here’s a quick recap of what I did (without visuals).

The dyeing itself was just the same as the spot dyeing of the background. Spread the skein in a flat pan of simmering water so that it is spread out as much as possible, DSCF5727

(spread out the wool to cover the bottom of the pan and as much as possible so the yarn is exposed to absorb the dye….in the pan….not on the table like this photo)

…..and spot with dye baths plus citric acid. (again I used turquoise, blue 440, lilac, and blue violet).

I wanted the same intensity as the background …so here’s how I figured out how much dye to use (another great tip from Gene Shepherd’s video).  1/4 yard wool is about 3 oz. 1 skein of yarn is about 4 oz. I had dyed 1/2 yard at a time, and used 1/128th tsp of each dye, so I figured I needed a little more than half the dye of the original background. I roughly measured 1/2 of 1/128th tsp of each colour, and ta dah….ended up with the same intensity.


…some arm stretching help from DH and I’m ready to get on with the finishing.


In the meantime, I had finished hooking the background, so here it is ready to steam and bind.


Having forgotten to take photos of the dyeing process, I then went ahead and forgot to take my camera to a wonderful hook in I attended on Wednesday with the hookers in Gravenhurst. So I can’t show you all the rugs on display there, or the wonderful food and hospitality they showed the 13 of us who were there from Sunshine Rug Hooking group. ARGHHHHH!

The Background Story

When choosing how to do the background of my “old rug” pattern, I knew I wanted something light, but interesting and relating to the colours of the scroll. I decided to do a spot dye with just a very small amount of the dyes I had used for the scroll. (the scroll used 1/4 tsp dye, the background used 1/128th tsp of the same dyes…..blue violet, grasshopper, turquoise….and I also added 1/128th tsp lilac, each in 1.5 CBW with citric acid added to the cups. I did just 1/2 yard the first time, and knew I’d need more.DSCF5452

I felt I had agitated it too much during the process, leaving a muddy background colour, so the next time, I was careful to leave it alone while it was in the pot taking up the dye. The first batch also didn’t really have any of the grasshopper green visible, so I strengthened that dye bath a bit. (a heaping 1/128th tsp. of dye)DSCF5711

Although it looks more green in the photo, in real life, the green is not green at all but yellow. I tried hooking a bit of background with it, and didn’t like the results at all. The yellow jumped out and wasn’t pleasing to my eye. Back to the dye pots.

For my third attempt, I left out the grasshopper dye altogether, and used blue violet and turquoise  (both majic carpet) lilac, and 440 blue (both pro chem)….still being careful not to stir the dye bath so there were bright spots of  white left.

The differences between batch 1 and batch 3 are subtle, but important in achieving the results I’m after..


Strips of the first batch are at the bottom, and you can see that the third batch at the top is both brighter and a little more intense in colour.

In choosing how to hook the background, I was guided  by the pervading circular motion of the scroll.  I am using the brighter version of the background to make little cats paws of colour, and using the white background parts of this version around the leaves and flowers to help make them pop. The duller version I am using to fill in.DSCF5724

Again the differences are very small, but I think they add to the effect, and I may as well put my mistakes to good use.

Dyeing the Background for Althea

I have the background underway, and I’m still procrastinating about the face and the flesh tones.


I’m still debating about removing the face altogether (except the lips, one eye and the ear, which I like) and redoing it with a newly dyed batch so I have enough of the same colour to do the whole thing…..since I can’t seem to match this colour.   SOOOO…while I dabate this dilemma with myself, I’ve gone on to the background.

I got out a variety of existing yellows from my stash, and thought I’d try transition dyeing to blend and mix the various yellow tones.


Well that was a raging failure! They certainly match some better, but are still way too far apart, and don’t have blending sections so that I can merge them while hooking.

I knew I wanted a gold colour with some depth to it, so I found a yellow I liked in the sample colours from the book Jewel Tones, which I had borrowed from the Sunshine library. I decided to start by dyeing 1/2 yard. Simple….except that the Jewel Tones book is written for 1/3 yard of wool ripped into two – 8 tone swatches, and the one I liked called for the dyes yellow, sun yellow, golden yellow, and chestnut brown. I have neither golden yellow or chestnut brown.

Not to be deterred by the fact that I had the wrong amount of wool and the wrong dyes, I forged ahead. I checked my prochem swatches, and decided that cantaloupe would do for golden yellow, and chocolate brown wasn’t too far off from chestnut brown. I mixed it in two colour baths as per the instructions, and from then on …went my own way. I put half of each dye solution in the dye pot, added the wool and spooned the other halves over the wool  later when much of the colour had been taken up. I didn’t actually stir, but moved the wool around enough so that the colour differences blurred.


This is what I ended up with, and I’m delighted. (it’s all carefully written in my recipe book so I can re-create it)


Off I went to a hook-in on Friday and started the background.


As usual, I jumped around to see how the background would look. I started doing it against the darker sections.

You would have laughed if you’d seen me trying to get a picture of the whole thing on Saturday morning. It was hanging up in such a way that to get the entire piece in the photo I had to half stand in the middle of the bed, leaning this way and that to try and get it straight on.


I fell over several times in my attempts, and the dog thought he should come to my rescue and lick my face, or make this into a great new game. There were a multitude of shots like this one….chopped off and not straight on.


Finally! A straight-on shot of the whole piece. Whew.

I should get lots of hooking done this week with the Briar on every day. I’m the world’s most avid Television listener.

Thanks for stopping by.

Chugging Along

I’ll start at the end. This is what I’ve accomplished on Althea this week.


….the fan, the kimono sleeve lining, the peacock, and two groups of flowers. As usual, it has been a process. some things work, and many more need rethinking or redoing along the way.


This is the wool I used for the fan. All the colours except the dark one I have used in other places in the piece. I had the centre completed, when I realized that the triangle was in the wrong spot….so out it all came and was moved to the right and down.


The dark colour is from a grey cashmere jacket that I had overdyed with navy and mahogany. I had originally intended to use it for Hygieia, but it wasn’t right there, but came in handy for here. The cashmere has lots of depth and richness (which you can’t really see in the photo). It’s also quite thick, and doesn’t fray when it’s cut in a very small strip, so it was easy to use for the outlining.


To hook the bit of the lining of the sleeve, I just used squiggles of many of the kimono colours.


I’m calling this a peacock, although comments about the painting that I’ve read don’t mention what this bird is. I hooked the back in ordered sequence (as you would for stained glass) in order to get the effect of the spotted wool. The breast is the same yellow that I overdyed with mallard green and used for the outlining on the phoenix. The head is a pale spot dye of Sea Breeze and Mallard green. My favourite part of this bird is his eye. His neck looks a bit too thick to me, so he may be in for a trim!

The original painting has multitudinous colours of pink and red in the flowers, so I thought I’d introduce a new pink in the lotus flowers. I spot dyed 1/8th yard with raspberry (and something else which I’ve forgotten).


I hadn’t gone very far when I began to wonder about it. Actually I didn’t like any of it! Didn’t like the spot dye effect, and didn’t like the colour.


When I got home from a hooking get together on Friday, and hung it up to take a look at the whole thing, I could hardly wait to get it pulled out! The colour has no connection with the rest of the piece at all. I decided to change tactics altogether, and dip dyed  2 1/16th yard pieces.


This dip dye is Cantaloupe with a bit of Black to dull it down.


The second is Cantaloupe by itself.

I can’t believe how easy it was to do the dip dyes in the microwave. I actually did the dipping just on the kitchen counter (using boiling water as the only heat source) then when almost all the dye was taken up, I popped the whole thing in the microwave for 2 minutes, and it was done!


I feel there is a cohesiveness to the colour palette now that really pleases me.

I guess I did a lot of hooking yesterday. I was so anxious to see how the dip dyes would work. My wrist is a bit tender this morning so I’d better take it a bit slower….did I mention that I’m impatient?

Mouse Grey and Sand Pink

Every piece I do is a learning experience, and some “little girl” part of me gets excited whenever I figure out something new (for me) and like the results. This week has been one of those “aha” times.


I ‘ve been hooking the kimono, and (as usual) struggling with the colours. At the end of the last blog, I mentioned that I was soaking some pale lilac wool to overdye.


The results were pretty, but glaring against the other colours of the kimomo.

Then Dorr came to my rescue. My 5 yards of natural arrived, and I was in 7th heaven. I have lots of recycled wool in my stash, and use it whenever I can, but I love nothing more than the feel and joy of hooking with freshly dyed new wool. I rationalize the expense by comparing it to the cost of buying wool dyed by someone else, and by resisting the urge to replace my Bliss and Frazer cutters with a Beeline or Ault.

But I digress….I wanted some very pale pink, some shades of brown, and mauve and blue, and some very dark wool for the stripes. Everything I tried looked garish. I liked the splotches at the bottom of the kimono, and had created them by dyeing mouse grey and pink sand over oatmeal wool. It dawned on me ( it should have occured to me sooner) to introduce at least one of these two colours in everything, and now I’m so pleased with the overall results. My aim is not to try and reproduce the original colours, but to achieve the essential overall effect.


I overdyed the light brown houndstooth with mouse grey.(the dyed piece is on the right). It looks splotchy and ungly in the piece, but suddenly “matched” the rest of the kimono.


I did the same thing with  maple sugar pieces and now they co-ordinate too.


The pink plaid (overdyed with pink sand and mouse grey) was originally intended to be in the light part, but is now in the dark section.


I used lazy swatches of pink sand for the pale colours, and my main deep blue for the stripes.


Now I’m happy and can’t wait to finish this section. I think Althea is smiling too.

Eye Phoenix and Kimono

My “Lady with Fan” is now Althea. Many thanks to my dear friend Sandi for researching names and finding just the right one. Althea means health and wellbeing…and this is my “healing piece”.


I completely removed her left eye and rehooked it…changing it’s angle, lowering it, and enlarging the grey lid area. I like it much more now. The nose however,  is another matter!


I used some of the new dyes I purchased for this project in the Phoenix….Cantaloupe (with a wee touch of black to dull it a bit) and  Sea Breeze for the body. To get the pale yellow green for the tiny lines, I overdyed a piece of pale yellow with a smidgeon of Mallard green. Apparently all the greens in Chinese symbols are blue-greens (I’m learning something new every day as I work on this).


I used my favourite black watch tartan for the “black” parts on the wings.

One of the best things about hooking for me is that I can jump around in what I do. (I always hated those 345 rows of stocking stitch on a sweater before I got to the interesting parts.)

I decided to move to the kimomo. My earlier attempt to dye the deep dull blue for it didn’t work. I used slate blue with a touch of lilac…it was lovely, and ended up on the Phoenix wings, but wasn’t at all right for the kimono. It needed more depth. This time I chose three different wools, natural, oatmeal, and a grey check.


I dyed it with slate blue, navy, and a wee bit of blue violet. I had to do it twice to get the depth I wanted, but I really like the final outcome.

For the lighter sections, I tried this sand/pink plaid. and some oatmeal wool.


I dyed the oatmeal with pink sand and mouse grey (spotted, not mixed)…and I love that. My lovely pink plaid probably would have worked if I’d left it alone, but I overdyed it with pink sand and clay, and although i’ve tried it, it’s going to taken out….too red/brownish, and now too dark.


I really like how the two wools go together.

Right now I have some pale lilac wool soaking and I’m going to try overdyeing it shortly. ( keeping my fingers crossed).

Dyeing wool is so exciting when it works, and so disappointing when it doesn’t. By the way…I’m so grateful to Wanda Kerr for her video on microwave dyeing. This rug needs lots of small pieces of wool, and it’s such a simple and quick method to do them, and to experiment without taking up the whole stove. I must make a trip to Goodwill to look for a better microwave dyeing container. My large ice cream tub isn’t very sturdy!

Thanks for stopping by!

Cat’s Paw Background

The background is underway, and I really like the effect of the blues against the reds. I wanted it to pop, and it surely does. This is by far the brightest piece I’ve attempted, and the colours are way outside of my usual comfort zone. (Saundra these colours may shock you to the very core…I need to visit your blog frequently just to get a calm colour fix)


My favourite cat’s paw is the large one on the left, which goes smoothly through the oranges to red , pinks and finishes with maroon.


I spot dyed the background with 5 colours. I began with turquoise (which unfortunately doesn’t show up in the picture), then used, from pro chem: navy, national blue, brilliant blue, and also the Majic Carpet blue. I’m not very good yet at gauging how many nylons I’ll need….they don’t go very far), so I’ve got lots more background dyeing to do.


I find I’m adding more rounds to many of the paws as I do the background, as well as inserting more small ones to fill in the spaces. Its rather like watching someone break out in the measles!!

preparing Adele’s coiffure


I’ve studied various photos of Adele’s hair, and as far as I can see, it is just…..BLACK. However, the hair, is a large portion of my piece, and I’m going to do it in a variety of ‘blacks’ to give it some life. My intention is, at this point…..(early Monday morning) ….to dye up an antique black, using the oatmeal as a base (I don’t have enough of the wool for my hall runner background to risk using that).  I have a variety of black plaids and tweeds in bits and pieces which I hope will work for extra highlights. I’m not sure yet whether I will marry those colours, or use them as is. So those are my intentions as of 7:30 am…..but it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind!


1:00pm…..I used my basic antique black recipe as a guide, but instead of using ‘bottle green’, I used ‘maple sugar’ (not the real stuff…the pro chem dye). I made that change for a couple of reasons….the most mundane being…I don’t want to run out of ‘bottle green’ before I complete the background of the hall rug, and secondly, I plan to use the ‘maple sugar as a background colour, and thought it would tie the two areas together, thirdly it seemed like a good highlight for black hair.

I used two dye batches and 1/2 yard of wool: 1 1/4 tsp black in 1 1/2 cbw plus 1/4 cup vinegar, and 3/4 tsp maple sugar in 1 1/2 cbw plus 1/4 cup vinegar. (no water in the pan…but soaked wool)



. I spooned on the black first in splotches, then did the same with the maple sugar. (sorry I forgot to take a picture at that point)


Then, using my tongs, I made sure everything was soaked through. I covered it with tin foil and put it in the oven at 300 degrees. After 1 hour the water was clear, so I took it out and rinsed it.


I did the eyes and mouth in 3 and 4 cuts, the flesh in a 6 cut, and I’m trying an 8 cut for the hair. It will not only be faster, but more realistic I think.