More on Dyeing Wool with Wool

In the last several posts I shared my new fiber love, which is using pieces of wool to dye other pieces of wool.  I’ve named it “Wool on wool dyeing”.  To date I’ve only dyed lightweight pieces of wool which were in turn made into scarves and the donor pieces have been wool flannel or wool crepe.

For this, the third experiment, I had a grey, off-white and reddish wool gauze scarf that I accidentally felted and afterward the colors looked dull.  My hypothesis was that a piece of royal blue wool would donate enough color to the scarf to revitalize the it.  Here’s the grey scarf.IMG_0816  To dye the scarf I used the same process as in the previous experiments, although this time I only used a single piece of donor wool, log rolling the scarf along with the blue as below.  Of note, the piece of blue wool was tainted by moth holes so there was nothing to lose by using it for dyeing.  My friend Martha suggested the “donor” terminology, which seemed quite appropriate for this process.  Thank you, Martha.

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As with the previous wool dyeing I tied it (though not too tightly as I think the ties stress the fabric and releases excess amounts of color from the donor).

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The next step was to dip the wrapped fabric into a slow cooker  (this one is reserved for dyeing fabric) 2/3 full of near boiling water.  After about 30 minutes I unplugged the cooker, turned the wrapped fabric upside-down and left it in the slow cooker for another 30 minutes.

After the hour in the slow cooker I removed the fabric and allowed it to cool.  The last step was to rinse the scarf in cold water (1 cup of vinegar per gallon of water).  Now I have a lovely blue scarf.

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My sense is that there’s a lot more to learn about wool on wool dyeing, and I can’t wait to take the journey while searching second-hand stores for more wool.

Here are some of the questions I have:

  1. How frequently can a piece of wool be used as a donor?
  2. What is the largest piece of fabric that can be dyed in this manner?
  3. Does water need to be boiling hot or just very hot?
  4. Would a shorter period of time in the hot water be sufficient?
  5. What types of wool can act as the recipient?
  6. What about wool blends – do they work the same as 100% wool?
  7. How about dyeing silk with wool?

What questions do you have?

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4 thoughts on “More on Dyeing Wool with Wool

  1. Fascinating idea, silks do release a lot of colour, especially dupions. I wonder about using scraps of these as donor, would that work?

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