Dyeing sunset or sunrise sky for rug hooking

Written by Cindi Gay

I received a call from Rhonda Smith about dyeing wool for a sunset sky. An image popped in my mind. I asked her to mail me the photo she had in mind (colors do not always translate well in emails because everyone’s monitor can show colors very differently.) When it arrived it was remarkably different that what I had in mind. Now that I knew what she wanted, I was ready to get to work. Rhonda needed one yard for water and one for sky.

The dye recipes

First I dyed one yard of wool using Robin’s Egg, #14A from my book, Dyeing by the Numbers, at double strength.* As soon as the water cleared, I felt comfortable starting the second pot. I always cook for at least 30 minutes after the water comes to a near boil and after the acid has been added. I usually cook blues a bit longer because they fade the fastest.

*I used a recipe 4x the original because the recipe is intended for 1/2 yard. Since I was dyeing over 1 yard (twice the amount) I needed 4x the recipe to dye it at double strength. See you DO need math after the 4th grade! . . . or this simple fraction technique.

The emergency swap

As the first pot continued to process, I noticed it was getting too dark. Wool will be lighter when it is dry, but even allowing for the drying it was too dark. I glanced over at the second pot and it looked about right.

I took these photos immediately after putting the second yard of wool in the pot. I intended to use the photo for an article on dyeing. Even though both pots are lighter here and cooked for a while before I noticed the problem, the photos below still illustrates what is going on.

Wool dyeing in the pots on the stove for sky and water

I immediately took the first darker yard of wool out of the clear water and put it in an empty pot, then I moved the second yard from the still blue water and put it in the first pot. The dark wool went back into the second pot and cooked in the lightly colored blue water, allowing it to get even darker.

My intent was to stop the second yard from getting any darker. I reset the clocks, added acid to be sure each pot had enough and began processing again.

By going slow, I avoided having two yards that were the wrong value. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.

Spot dyeing the water

Once both pieces were done, I need to spot the water and make the sky darker to coordinate. I used the spot dye method described in my book, Dyeing by the Numbers. I spotted the wool with 15B Deep Water and some more of 14A Robin’s Egg, concentrating the bulk of the dye at one end and only lightly spotting the other end. Then I baked it for an hour to set the wool before dyeing the sky darker. It would be relatively easy to match the solid sky to the spotted water rather than the other way around.

Dyeing the sky wool

Comparing wet to wet I poured and cooked, poured and cooked until I had a match that I liked. The goal was to match the darker end of the spot dyed wool. I used the same dyes that I did in the spot dye, a bit of 14A and 15B.

rug hooking wool dyed for sky and water

Learn more about dyeing rug hooking wool…

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How to rug hook a sunset sky and water using specially dyed wool

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