Hand Dyed Wool- New Formulas!

I was sick with a cold for about 10 days or so….I felt like it dragged on because of the cold and incredibly nasty weather! The temperatures weren’t that cold, but I guess the Spring humidity increases the feeling of cold. We’ve been having a lot of small nightly fires, as neither of us can get warm. The cats must agree, because they run for their pillows by the fire when they hear the crackling start!

In the spirit of having a cold, and hearing what my mother used to say in my head, I engaged in Quiet Work! (The first few days of an illness required bed rest and then it was on to a quiet activity….) Dyeing wool seems like the perfect job as most of the time I am stirring or waiting.

I have done a lot of dye experiments with wool over the years and continue to enjoy the amazing color that dyed wool takes on. So rich! My dye formulas start with dyestock; that is powdered dyes that I have mixed into a liter of water. Then it’s so easy to grab the jars off the shelves and get going. I use just the primaries and black, and I have several primaries that I use for variation. I decided to re-dye a formula I did many years ago – a 10 part one using all three primaries.

Peter always helps me out with the higher level math that is needed. (Quick- can you tell me how many variations there are with ten part/three part dyeing?) Turns out there are over 30 different combinations! Below you see some of the colors using a normal rainbow sequence. For instance, the yellow is 1R8Y1B. The green next to it is 1R7Y2B,etc,etc.


Then come the less obvious combinations; colors that don’t fit into the tidy linear rainbow and I am not sure how to organize on a dye sheet. Colors that have a lot of red in them are on the top row. (The right hand formula is 6R2Y2B, then 5R3Y2B.) The middle fabrics are the blue-ish colors. That very juicy one on the right is 2R2Y6B (peacock blue?). I very much like that row. The bottom group contains what I think of as the real neutrals, and answers the question “How do you make grey or tan or brown?”. The one on the right is obviously a very red-brown (4R2Y2B) and the one on the far left a very purple one (4R2Y4B). I have my eye on the neutral that’s third from the right (3R2Y5B). It looks to be a gorgeous blue grey and I am anxious to do some value studies of it.

After I get all the samples in my dye book, I want to compare these to a 9 part/3 part progression I did, which contained nearly thirty variations. I want to see how much difference there really is! There may not be a lot, but every time I do this, I find colors that sing to me and will become part of my rug hooking palate.

P.S. We have finally had some warm weather which inspired a new header! Welcome Spring!)

One thought on “Hand Dyed Wool- New Formulas!

  1. I’m sorry to hear you are still under the weather. I hope you get better soon. I love the header! I love all of your headers… And, your wools are beautiful! I’m really jealous with the fires-we have been breaking record highs with mid 90s. Take care.


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