004 – Washing wool for rug hooking

October 24, 2017 2 comments | Updated February 1, 2023

Written by Cindi Gay

Rug Hooking with Cindi Gay podcast

Episode 004

Types of wool

  • Just because the label says 100% wool, it does not make it right for rug hooking
  • Not all wool is created equal
  • Recycled pros and cons
    • cost of gas and time to buy
    • Yield
      • average skirt only yields about 5 ounces
      • a yard of rug hooking wool weights about 14 – 16 ounces
      • takes 3 skirts to  yield about 1 yard
    • limited color choices
    • Moth risk
      • bringing old clothing into your home increases your risk of a moth infestation
      • take the wool from your car directly to the washer and wash with warm water
      • rip the wool apart outside and away from the house to avoid spreading any eggs
      • snip and rip – the small amount of wool you get by ripping out the seam is negligible
      • there is some nasty stuff in the seams and hems
      • More moth details are included in my book, Dyeing Without Dye.
    • avoid jackets and blazers
    • higher cost per piece and usually only the arms are useable. The rest has a fusible lining that leaves a residue.
    • Skirts and slacks are the best source.
    • Coats and blankets are usually too thick.
    • Scarves and shawls are usually beautiful, but expensive for the amount of wool you get
  • worsted is the worst
  • You can use less than 100% wool – personal decision
  • I like thicker wool rather than thin
  • I avoid the 2×2 weave
  • Trust your source, know how the wool is stored and what the vendor’s standards are

How to Wash Rug Hooking Wool

  • All wool should be washed to make if fluffy – but also to eliminate any pests
  • You CAN hook with wool right off the bolt
  • Wash wool the same way you would wash blue jeans (I even wash wool with blue jeans)
    • cool water, hot regular dryer
    • If you air dry, it will not fluff
    • Be sure your detergent does not include bleach
      • Test for 100% wool using bleach

How to test for 100% wool using bleach
This is an image from the book “Dyeing Without Dye” by Cindi Gay
  • Snip it into hookable pieces – The method I use.
    • fold the selvedges together and snip the fold
    • open it up, fold one selvage to the snip.
    • fold again, fold one more time
    • snip two places on one side and one on the other
    • open it up and repeat with the other side
    • your pieces are 1/16 yard
    • each piece will hook approximately 25 square inches
  • Label your newly washed and snipped wool with a tag
    • I cut 5” x” 8” index cards into 4 pieces that are 2” x 5”.  Fold in 1/2 and staple on the edge
    • Include your name
    • Include a dye formula and base color
    • Include source – who you bought it from, do they have a name/code for the wool?
    • Include a date
    • Did you buy it for a specific rug?
    • All of these notes will help you find more if you need it.
  • Washing Maching concerns

    • I’ve heard some people say that washing wool broke their washer.  I’ve never had a problem
    • Keep the sump clear with bleach
    • Bleach will dissolve wool and is a great way to test for 100% wool
      • If a blend, the non-bleach fibers will still be in the cup
    • Dryer – keep the vent clear
      • A smooth vent will have less build up than a rippled one.
      • Avoid softener sheets – they can create a waxy buildup that the fibers stick to


    The wire shelving I used is now discontinued, but here is a link to several that are very similar. Look for cubes that are about 15″ rather than 12″.

    This is an affiliate link. At no extra charge to you, I get a small thank you from Amazon when you purchase.

    You can rug hook anything with this supply of wool
    Wall of rug hooking wool. You can hook anything with the right wool.
    Use these wools to rug hook
    Textured wools for rug hooking

    What advice would you give a new rug hooker about buying wool?

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