Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Rug Hooking | How to Dye Wool

This post is for a friend of mine over at BizarreQuilter who is interested in the rug hooking. 

I have only been dying my own wool at home for a little while. I learned the techniques from some very talented ladies at my local rug hooking guild. I will humbly show you what I have learned from them.

Lately I have been working on a cute little alien called Moog. I needed some green wool to continue on with my Moog rug so I ordered some pro chem wash fast Acid Dye in Spearmint 723 Green and dyed up some wool in the exact shade I needed.

The guild purchases their Pro Chem dyes from Ragg Tyme Studio. you could get them there or buy them from your preferred source. 

I used about a quarter meter of some unbleached wool cloth that I had purchased for dying my own shades, but you can use any type of wool you would like. 

Part One - The Washing

You will need to soak the wool in a light detergent for about half and hour. Gently poke it down and swish around to make sure you are getting all of the wool we, then leave it to sit. This process gets rid of chemicals left behind from manufacturing and it opens up the follicles in the wool to make it accepting of the dye. 

*Note*   Agitation + detergent + extreme temperature change = wet felting. We aren't wet felting so let's go easy on our wool cloth. Sometimes you will want to butch up your wool, and in this case, I would go ahead and use the formula to felt it a bit. 

Part Two - Mixology the Art 

While the wool is soaking, boil a couple of cups of water for mixing the dye in. Make sure all containers used with dye are not used for eating or drinking in again. I use a plastic 1L yogurt container to mix my dyes in 

I measured out a tiny bit of dye and added it to a cup and a half of boiled water.... 

I dye without exact measurements because I find the process very flexible; if I don't get the shade I want then I just add more and adjust the length of time the wool is in the dye bath.

 If you want to recreate the same color in a different batch you can record your process and try the measurements next time.

Part Three - Rinse, Heat, and Dye 

Once the wool has been washed and rinsed we will put the  wool in a pot of warm water that just covers the wool on the stove and turn on the heat to a low heat (almost a simmer but never over) 

Add the dye mixture to the pot with your wool; you can add it however you like. Adding it directly to the wool fabric will give a very strong color in that area and adding it to the water will give you a more even color throughout. To add it to the water just move your fabric over a little and stir in with your stick. You can swish the fabric around or you can just leave it still. It is up to you and the affect you are desire.

Part Four - Add Acid, Wait and Assess

After the wool has been soaking up the dye for about 40 mins add 1/2 cup vinegar (the acid of the acid dye technique) while the dye bath is on the heat.  You will probably be able to see the water clearing up before your eyes (its pretty neat). Let the dye bath sit on the heat for another half an hour or until all of the dye is taken up by the wool. You can repeat the adding color and vinegar until you have something you like.

Part Five: The Cool Down and Dry Off 

When you get the color you like just turn off the heat and let the temperature come down slowly; a sharp change in temperature by washing in cold water can cause the wool to felt.  Some people wash/ rinse their wool to get rid of the vinegar smell but I don't wash it after. You can check the color fastness by rinsing but I usually trust the dyes I am using. 

After the wool fabric is dyed it can be cut into strips for rug hooking. I will show you some pictures in the next post: Cutting Wool Fabric for Rug Hooking.

If you have comments or questions feel free to leave them below. I try to respond to everyone.



  1. Replies
    1. Thank you rose. It is pretty fun if you have a good eye for color and like experimenting.

  2. Your photos and explanation are freaking amazing!!!! I am so grateful that you've written this, it is more helpful than you can know.

    I am excited to read more as we journey along.

    Lots of love, Lorraine xxxx


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