How to Marry Rug Hooking Wool

February 17, 2011 4 comments | Updated May 10, 2019

Written by Cindi Gay

I recommend this method to beginning dyers. It gives you a chance to alter wool without buying commercial dyes. This method will make recycled solid wool more useable.

  1. Put your wool in a pot and fill it with enough water to cover the wool. If your pot is large enough you can add all the wool at once. If not, rip each piece of wool in half, thirds or quarters and put one piece of each in the pot. Then repeat this process with the remaining batches.
  2. Add a healthy squirt of soap to the water. I usually use dish soap, but you can use laundry soap.

    Be sure the soap DOES NOT HAVE BLEACH. Bleach will actually dissolve the fibers in your wool. It does not remove color as it does for cotton.

  3. Bring the water up to a simmer, just below boiling. If it begins to boil, just turn down the heat a bit, but you need to get it hot. After a few minutes the water will begin to take on some color. This is the dye coming out of the wool. If you do not see this after several minutes of simmer, raise the heat and add more soap.Continue to cook until the water turns just the right color. What color is the right color? It depends. Only experimentation and experience will tell you when it is ready. The more you cook it, the darker the water will get and the more the wools will become the same. If you cook it too long there will not be any variety between them. If you don’t cook them long enough, they will still be too different, but you can repeat the process again.
  4. When the water is the right color, add your acid. This can be vinegar or citric acid crystals. You will need to add enough to force the dye back into the wool. If the water does not clear, add acid and turn the heat up. Cook for 30 minutes more. If you remove the wool immediately once the water is clear it is prone to fading so don’t skimp on the cooking.
  5. Let the wool cool in the pan overnight. If you want to speed up the process, you can remove it right away, but it will be hot so be careful. Wash, rinse and dry. I prefer to wash my wool in a full cycle with soap. The alkaline soap will help to remove the acid. I put them in the washer with a pair or two of blue jeans. I get some laundry done while I finish up the wool.

Here’s an example of what this wool looks like hooked when you marry several different beiges.

border detail
Border detail from Ally\’s Cat
House of Price pattern, Horse, hooked by Cindi Gay for Jacob
House of Price pattern, Horse, hooked by Cindi Gay for Jacob, uses married wool for the background
Hooked horse
House of Price pattern, Horse, hooked by Cindi Gay for Nick, uses married wool in the background.

Get started with this process right away. My Best Beige Background is a bundle of closely related light wools that you marry. Includes a recipe card. The wools that are included will vary from the photo.

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In Memory of Kim Nixon: I will miss you, friend.

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