Tips and Tricks: Matching Dyed Wool

A few years back, Ania mentioned in a Rug of the Month post a dyeing challenge she faced while hooking her “Paisley Hex” rug. While hooking the rug, she ran out of wool that someone else had dyed for her, and so she had to approximate someone else’s dyed wool to finish the project.

In the years since, other hookers have mentioned having the same or similar issues, and so, Ania decided to publish a tips and tricks post to explain the solutions she found to matching someone else’s dyed wool. 

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Ania’s finished “Paisley Hex” project, which uses the trick she discusses in this post.

In what situations would a rug hooker not have enough wool to finish a project?

There’s a whole host of potential reasons! Maybe you bought a kit years ago, and just finally have had the chance to begin hooking the project associated with it. Maybe you got wool as part of a class, or maybe a friend of yours gave you some wool for a project.

My “Paisley Hex” project was part of a class, and the teacher, Patti Stone, had dyed and provided the wool. I realized part of the way through hooking the border that I didn’t have enough wool to finish the job. Normally, I would get out my pots and pans and dye some more as soon as it was convenient, but in this case that wasn’t really an option since I didn’t know how the original wool had been dyed.

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Up close, you can see the differences in the two colors that were dyed – one is a darker brown and the other a warmer brown.

How did you find a solution to this issue?

I was able to ask Patti for the formula she used, and I luckily had the same dyes and wool she had used. However, the color I dyed was not an exact replica of Patti’s original wool. Differences in how people measure, differences in the water used to dye, and other minor changes in the process can all result in variations in the final product that is dyed.

I overcame the visual difference in the original wool and my wool by cutting equal amounts of both, and placing them in a bag. Then, as I hooked the border, I’d pull out a piece at random. This tip will work even if you need to approximate your supplemental wool without the original formula or materials available to you.

If you look closely at the project, you can see those differences in the wool, but because the human brain likes to interpret what the eye sees as consistently as possible, it is difficult to immediately notice those differences.

Do you have any tips for matching wool while you’re dyeing? 

Yes – wet your wool! I wet the piece of wool that I’m trying to dye a match for. I do this because wet wool is always darker. If you’re actively dyeing wool, it’s wet, and you want to match the two wools under similar conditions. You’re going to get a closer match if you’re looking at the wet wool in your pot and the wet wool that you’re trying to match.

If you have any comments or questions, as always, feel free to leave them in the comments section below! Have a great Labor Day weekend 🙂

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