Dyeing variegated wool suggestions

I have a commission that I will be using a tapestry structure and wool for.  There are some very large areas dedicated to a single color and I would like to dye the wool in "controlled and subtle" variations.  I know how to make multi-colored designs but would love tips on making subtle but controlled changes within, say, rust skeins.  I see beautiful examples on Etsy and Pinterest and am wondering how they control the subtleties.  Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.


Posted on Mon, 12/11/2017 - 13:55

I have achieved that by not stirring the pot.  Get the pot hot, add the die, add the wool, simmer for a while. The wool will be darkest on the bottom.  When I don't want this effect, I use a very large pot with a perforated insert that keeps the wool off the bottom (hottest area) of the pot.

Posted on Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:51

Thanks for the information big white sofa dog.  I like the idea about the secondary container and would not have thought of that.  It also keeps the yarn from wiggling, I would guess.

Posted on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 02:27

No, the insert is not to keep the wool from wiggling.  If you want an even dye, you want to move the wool about.  The pot with the insert is a giant pasta pot and the insert keeps the wool at the same temperature, off the bottom of the pot.

Posted on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 04:21

I don't want an even dye job.  I want subtle changes in hue/value.

Posted on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 14:22

 In my first post, I told how I get a shaded dye, and what conditions promote an even tone.  If I want an even tone, I use a perforated insert, if not, I don't use it, and don't agitate the wool.  If you know what it takes to get an even dye, you know what  to do to not get an even color.  Insert + agitation = even.  No insert, No agitation = variation.

Posted on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 17:47

Okay.  I understand.  The one color areas will be as large as 22" x 22" and although I will add in little stripes of different lusters and textures I don't want it all to be too flat. I've tried to attach an example of what I'm trying to achieve but no luck.  Do you know how to do that?  Example of what I'd like to achieve

Posted on Thu, 12/14/2017 - 00:58

also, using less water will help prevent even dyeing.  if you are using acidfast dyes, add the acid early on.  don't wait until the dye has all been taken up before you add the acid.  

Posted on Thu, 12/14/2017 - 05:25

Thanks for the info Ellen.  Yeah, I realize that crowding the wool will inhibit eveness.  I do add acid right away but wonder how that would effect eveness.  Are you saying that the dyeing will be more even if you wait to add it after heating it for a while?  I guess that makes sense as I'm assuming the acid ph "glues" down the dye like soda does in MX on cellulose.  Good to know!

Posted on Tue, 12/19/2017 - 06:18

I just want to make sure that everyone knows about Colourmart (https://colourmart.com/).  They are in England and sell high quality mill ends are low cost.  The prices include shipping and you can get free samples if you put an item "into your basket" and ask for a sample.  Most of their enormous inventory is on the finer side, e.g. not rug weaving oriented.  If you get on their mailing list they will send you notices every few days as to what's new.  You can put items in your basket and leave them there for days before you need to commit or change your mind.  Their samples are huge: enough to actually dye up and weave.

Their website takes a bit to learn how to navigate but there are loads of natural fibers: cashmere, alpaca, silk, linen, rayon, cotton, merino, etc.