Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dye Class Diary

Our dye class class is going pretty well. Sunny, Sarah, Sharon and Jean are doing a great job. I'm not doing too badly either considering my recovery from my injury. I do need to sit down from time to time though which is unusual for me. We've taken some video for you which I'll pop up here on the week-end for you to see. We are exploring many things and as usual I deepen my understanding of effective communication while instructing.

Our first task was to create a formula.
If you have never made one here is an easy place to start to help you to develop your own formulas or refresh your ability to do so.

While we dye we are being creative. Being creative is a series of decisions.

You might find when dyeing without formulas, you are turning to the same old combos repeatedly with predictable results.

This is one time I’m advising you to stir it up but not in the dye pot, I want to spark your mind. Let’s dream up what’s possible in this session. We will combine some unusual partners, we’ll see what happens when you tinker with the ratios of dye you use. Increasing one colour in a two dye dance can really change the tempo ! Just switching one green for another, or using brown instead can also really alter things.


Pick out a dye you love.

Pick out one you dislike.

Try to make sure the colours are not side by side, like sea breeze and turquoise ( same dye different intensity ) or red and orange.


Decide how much wool you want to dye over. Decide what value you want your wool.

This will allow you to make an informed decision about how much dye to measure out. Not all dyes are made with equal strength. Prochem Lime Green for instance is pretty weak as is Majic Carpet red, you need to use more of these dyes to have them show up !

(You can find out what is weak by doing a sample of each dye you have with a toothpick of dye dyed over a 12” x1 inch wide strip of wool processed in a jar.)

A Value Guideline

Over 1/4 yd of wool ( YOU DYE THE AMOUNT OF WOOL YOU WANT IN THIS CLASS THIS IS JUST A GUIDELINE to give you a place to start)


very , very light - dry toothpick dipped in dye

very light- wet toothpick dipped in dye

light -1/128th tsp


medium light - 1/64 tsp

medium -1/32 tsp

medium dark - 1/16th tsp


light dark - 1/8th tsp

medium dark 1/4 tsp

very very very dark 1/2 tsp.


Measure out equal amounts of each dye to make a very light colour.


( Using natural wool for this value would be best and a dry toothpick for a measure )

Dissolve in 1/4 cup boiling water.

PAPER TEST- this is drawing a line with a chop stick or some such thing on white paper with the dye to test the colour.

Now honestly you might choose not to dye over wool at all but just record your results on paper. You will have tons of dye leftover though.

(This is the time to see if you like the colour and make adjustments though for this class I want you to trust your instincts and go for what you chose.)


It is fun and glam to make pretty colours, but I encourage you to go ahead with the grays and taupes, the dulls. We need these too.


Go ahead and dye your sample in a dye bath.


less water + small pot = lots of mottling on the wool. Lots of water + no squishing = smoothly coloured wool


Let’s look at the formula used

2 equal parts 1 dry toothpick each.

What does it look like if I use

1/128th of one colour and 1/64th of the other ?

What if I used a 1/32 of colour one and 1/64of colour two ?

Explore what happens with a 1 to 3 ratio and then try another tripling your other colour.

What if I wanted this colour very, very dark what could I do ....

Your Homework

Do Step 1

2 dyes in equal parts. One colour you like, one you don’t. Light value.

Now extrapolate.

Choose the variation of your choice as outlined in Step 2 or one you think of, record it.

Do as many variations with these two colours you wish but do at least one for us to see. The more you say what if to yourself and follow through, the more you will learn.

Pick out two more sets of two colours. Do the same with them - create a equal ratio formula, then at least one variation.

At the very least you are sending in 3 sets of 2 pieces of wool but go ahead and try as many variation of different ratios you like.

You can do anything with the two colours for your variations. You are in charge. Do the value you want.

Here is what I did as an example.

Magic Carpet Dyes over 1/4 yd natural wool.


1/128th tsp Black + 1/128th Yellow

The Variation


1/128th tsp Black+ 2/32 Yellow

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