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.


An English Sunset for Hilda

After the passing our our dear Hilda at age 97 last year, her daughter gave her wool to the Sunshine rug hookers.


We sold most of it and donated the proceeds to charity, but there were still many lovely pieces left. Mary Lou Justason and Linda Wilson came up with a wonderful idea and put it into action. They divided the wool into about 40 groupings and gave one package  to each of the the Sunshine members. We are now each creating a small hooked piece with this wool to have as a personal memento of our friend. We are planning to show them at R.U.G. and then invite Heather (Hilda’s daughter) to see them all at a meeting in May.

The package I chose was primarily navy, pinks and purples, and I decided to hook an English seaside sunset.

DSCF7363It’s tiny (just 25 cm. x 16 cm……sorry I can’t find an imperial ruler…but that’s approximately 10″ x 6″ ), and I added yellow orange/red and teal from my own wool.DSCF7367

Then, since Hilda’s wool was mainly solid colours, I  used the transition dyeing method (doesn’t use any dye), to create variation and highlights.


….and ended up with this….DSCF7375So now I’m having great fun creating this little English sea scape, and imaging that Hilda is enjoying the view as well.


Jean has created “Hilda’s Garden” with her wool.DSC03694

…..aren’t those little quillies delightful?

I’ll share what everyone else makes in a later post.

At our meeting this week I was working on “Hilda’s English Sunset”,  and here’s a glimpse of what everyone else was working on.DSCF7397Joanne’s adorable owl has a very ‘mola’ look to me. DSCF7404

Gail is hooking an abstract bench seat cover.


Marion was off visiting when I snapped this photo, so I have no explanation for her work.


Helen is continuing with her abstract moon/ night sky.DSCF7405Charlene told me the title of her lovely dressed tree, but unfortunately but I’ve now forgotten (so sorry Charlene).

DSCF7392Edie is coming along with the background of her floral piece. That lovely mottled background just makes the flowers pop.


Isabel is just getting this rose underway.

DSCF7388Linda’s grandchild painted this tile and presented it to her. Fearing that it was fragile, and might not stand the test of time……..DSCF7389

…….. she has hooked a replica of this very special keepsake.DSCF7381Liz’s necklace is the inspiration for her present project. A gift from he son-in-law, it is a maori symbol called a kora….DSCF7384


….and she is hooking a tribute to it….DSCF7387……using sari silk, and wool which she herself has spun and dyed.

There’s more to show, and I’ll include the rest in a second post.

Thanks for stopping by.




Doing the Redo

I LOVE hooking with transitional wool!


I’m quite pleased with my batch of subtle transitions, and the new effect of the barn wall. I’m hooking it vertically, and I like the splotches of colour. Much more effective and like a painting, than the two colour squiggly effect of the first version,

I’ve also redone the right side of the window in different, and lighter colours…the left is still to be altered.

It’s been fun to see the effect of adding just a bit of some bright colours like the peach bits in the light wall, the pale blue in the window sash, and some bright apple green in the mossy wall.


Now the mossy wall…..that’s another story…I’m using the “befunky” version as a general guide, but with alterations when I don’t like the results. One section that’s coming out is the very dark green next to the tree….yuck to that part. The green is too deep and doesn’t blend with the other greens. I do like the bits of yellow green added for highlights, (thanks to JoAnne’s ugly wool swap).

You should see my hooking area! I’m knee deep in small pieces of wool! Always hunting for just that right tone.


The good news is that after a few weeks of the hooking blahs, I’m once again enthused and excited to see what I can accomplish with a hook and a strip of wool.


I love dyeing wool, and the other day, I just felt like getting out the pots and doing a batch of “something”. I’d been looking at some of Gene Shepherd’s subtle colour changes on one of his posts, and thought, “I haven’t really got any transitional pieces in my stash. I’m going to do some transitional dyeing.” It’s easy… soaking….no dye required.


I gathered up some odds and ends of darks and lights.


….ripped them into suitable sized pieces, and arranged it all in my pan in several layers.


I mixed some dish detergent in hot tap water(I have no synthrapol) , and pored it over the dry wool.

DSCF5345….turned on the stove……


….and soon knew I was in trouble!!  Yikes….too much water….too much red……dark purple not bleeding at all…


….oh well….it was a nice day for drying wool outdoors, and my red stash now has extra variety.

Note to self: less water….and that beautiful purple plaid is no good in a pan of transitional wool.

Transitional Dyeing

I love the effects possible with transitional wool…wool which has a variety of colours blending together, and I’ve been itching to add to my sadly depleted stash of this beautifaul and useful wool.

I started by again watching Gene Shepherd’s video on the subject to refresh my memory, then went ahead and did it using what materials etc. I had at hand. One of the best things about this method…is… it’s quick and easy, since it doesn’t require either dye, or presoaked wool.


I gathered up a variety of pieces, both light and dark.( Akuma my seal point supervised). Gene uses only previously dyed wool, and I didn’t. I would prefer to, but my stash isn’t big enough. As a result, a few pieces would neither bleed, nor accept colour, and that is the result I must just accept (and try to remember not to use that wool next time) .


The dry wool is layered in the pan, covering about half of each piece with the next one…..about 4 layers deep


Gene then mixes synthrapol???  (which I don’t have) in cold water…so I used a few drops of dish detergent, covered the wool with this (just barely) and brought it to a boil for about 10 minutes. (covered with tin foil….no beautiful covered stainless pans in my dye kitchen….well actually no dye kitchen either)


After the wool had accepted the dye to my satisfaction, I poured in vinegar and cold water (Gene uses citric acid crystals) then it is simmered a further 15 minutes, then rinsed in cold water.


I got some very interesting colours. Some pieces are ‘accepters’ of dye, some are ‘donators’ and a few just went along for the bath. The bottom picture shows an original piece on the left, with 3 dyed pieces to the right.


This is what it all looks like, now that it is dry. Yummy!