Tips and Tricks: Dyeing With Dye Spoon Salt

A lot of people who dye clean their spoons in a jar containing salt. Overtime that salt container gets very dirty. Many people probably periodically throw that salt away and refill that jar with new salt. However, that jar of dirty salt contains all kinds of dyes that you’ve previously used, and so it occurred to Ania: why not dye with it?

Ania experimented with dyeing with her dye spool salt, and the results were beautiful. You can dye using natural wool, or over other colors. Read on below for a step by step guide on the process, and to see images of Ania’s end results:

Ania experimented with dyeing over yellow wool (pictured on the left), and the end results (pictured on the right) were beautiful.


Step 1: Choose your wool. You can use natural wool or any other colored or textured wool. I chose to use yellow wool in this specific example. Have fun with it! Experiment and explore.

Step 2: Soak your chosen wool overnight with either a small amount of Synthrapol, Wetter Than Wet, or Finish/Jet Dry.

Step 3: The next day squeeze out your wool and arrange it in your rectangular dye can, like you would for a spot dye, with multiple peaks and valleys.

Step 4: Pour a very small amount of water along the edges of your wool so that the bottom of the pan has about half an inch to three quarters of an inch of water in it. The peaks in your wool should be dry, and most of the wool should look dry.

Step 5: Sprinkle or pour your dirty salt over your wool in a random pattern. Sprinkle citric acid over the wool. Don’t stir or touch your wool after adding the salt!

Ania’s wool included subtle variations in color, such as hints of red and blue, that created a beautiful effect. This was achieved by not disturbing the wool once the salt was added to it. 

Step 6: Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.

Step 7: Place the pan in a preheated oven (it should be preheated to 275), and bake it. Check the level of the water every 15 minutes so that all the water doesn’t evaporate. If you see the water is evaporating, add more to the pan (along the edges and not on top of the wool). As the wool bakes in the oven, the water collects in steam under the foil, and as the steam drips back down on the wool it dissolves the salt and spreads the dye.

Step 8: When the water is clear at the bottom of the pan, you’re done. This should be about an hour after you’ve put the pan in the oven. Take your wool out, and admire your beautiful creation!

 Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions!


Tips and Tricks: Measuring Custom Dyed Whipping Yarn

For most of my rug hooking career, when it came to whipping rugs, I’d buy a skein of yarn and run with it. Recently, I’ve taken a different approach by hand dyeing my whipping yarn. With the new approach is a new conundrum: how much yarn do I need to dye? I want to ensure I have enough yarn for the project, without dyeing so much that I need to invent a reason to use it.

After a little bit of experimenting, I’ve come up with a method to help determine just that. Read on below for steps on how to estimate how much yarn you’ll need to dye to finish your project:

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Here are some of the materials that will be needed for this project – a hand dyed mini skein of yarn, a yard stick, a variety of needles, and your rug!

Step 1: After you’ve finished hooking your pattern, pressed it, and trimmed the backing, turn it over so that you have a half inch edge. I use a simple running stitch to keep the folded edge in place.

NOTE: The wider or narrower your edge is, the more or less yarn you’ll need to whip your rug.

Here is my turned edge, with a running stitch through the middle of it to keep it in place.

Step 2: When you hand dye your whipping yarn, you often work from a very large skein of yarn. To help determine which color I want to dye my yarn, I make a mini skein from my larger skein of whipping yarn, and use that to play around in the dye pot. I use this hand dyed mini skein to help determine how much yarn I’ll need to finish my entire project.

NOTE: When you’re dyeing your own yarn, you will need to account for shrinkage in your measurements. In my experience, I’ve noted a 2% shrinkage when dyeing a three ply 100% worsted wool yarn.

Here is my hand dyed mini skein, resting on top of my much larger skein of whipping yarn.

Step 3: Measure out four feet of yarn from your mini skein. I suggest marking the measurement with a knot, instead of cutting the yarn, to help avoid wasting your materials. Whip stitch along your rug as you normally would, leaving a six inch tail at the start. Continue your whip stitch until you have a six inch tail left. You should have two six inch tails, one at the start and one at the end of your whipping.

I used four feet of yarn from my mini skein (marked with a knot!) to whip my edge.

Step 4: Measure how much whipping resulted from your four feet of yarn. For this project, one yard of yarn (i.e. four feet minus two six inch tails) resulted in three inches of whipping. That made the math easy!

I could count on approximately one foot of yarn resulting in one inch of whipping. If the edge on your rug is narrower or wider than half an inch, your mileage may vary on how far you get with four feet of yarn.

Three inches of whipping!

Step 5: Measure the outer edge of your rug, so that you know the exact length that you will need to whip. My rug was 162 inches around.

Step 6: Do the math! For my project, one foot of yarn resulted in one inch of whipping, and so I’ll need at least 162 feet of yarn.

We also need to take into account the shrinkage from dyeing the yarn, that corners require more yarn, and that I also like to have a little bit of extra yarn put away just in case I need to complete repairs. So, I decided to dye an additional 10% of my yarn, resulting in a final total of 180 feet of yarn for this project.

Step 5: Measure out your yarn, dye it, and whip away!

If you have any questions on this process, feel free to comment below!


Tips and Tricks: Tracking Over-dyed Wool

This month, Ania is sharing a tip on how to keep organized while dyeing wool. For Ania, it used to be a hassle to keep track of which wool was being over-dyed during marathon dye days. Then, she discovered Tyvek envelopes were a great solution to that problem!

To read about how Ania uses Tyvek envelopes while dyeing, take a look at the post below.

Here is a Tyvek envelope – note the box: “Tear and water resistant”!

How did keeping track of your wool while dyeing emerge as an issue for you?

I often dye in batch mode, where I spend an entire day getting as much dyeing done as I can. There have been a number of projects where I had to, or wanted to, use one color to dye a lot of different pieces of colored wool. However, if you’re dyeing five to ten different pieces of wool one color, it can be very difficult to keep track of which base wool resulted in which end result.

Here are a wide variety of different colored pieces of wool that you might want to over-dye.

Can you go through, step-by-step, how you solved this issue?  

What you will need are Tyvek envelopes (either new or used), scissors, safety pins (or a needle and thread), and a Sharpie. Tyvek envelopes are waterproof and tear proof, which makes them perfect for dyeing in the pot, or in jars.

Everything you need in one picture: safety pins, scissors, a Sharpie, and small Tyvek labels.

Take a Tyvek envelope, cut it up into small squares (I use 1″ x 2″ pieces). They just need to be large enough to write on them legibly. With a safety pin (if you need to dye in the microwave, use a needle and thread instead), attach a piece of Tyvek to each piece of wool you are planning on over-dyeing. Label each piece of wool appropriately, with the Sharpie. Dye as you usually would. The labels are safe to use throughout the entire process (including drying the wool in the dryer). If you dye frequently, you can save your labels and reuse them!

Here is a series of wool, labeled, and ready to be over-dyed.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below for Ania!


Horrors in Home Dyeing (Oh no!)

Many of us play in the dye pot for fun, out of necessity, or for some combination of the two. A lot of people find dyeing scary, but eventually pick up the basics and think “hey, this isn’t too bad.” But there always lurks the possibility of something inexplicable gone wrong. Maybe the color you want, isn’t the color you get. Maybe you get the dreaded white core. Or maybe, worst of all, you’ve experienced the horror of all horrors……flocculent percipitate.

The cloudy substance in the dye solution are flocculent percipitate.

It goes like this: you’ve soaked your wool, your dye pots are out, your measuring cups are out, the water’s been boiled, the dye has been measured, and you’re expecting smooth sailing to your final product. You add hot water to your dye paste and you stir, stir, stir, waiting for it to dissolve into a smooth solution. But you notice something odd: the dye solution isn’t clear.

Dun, dun, dun……the dye solution has the dreaded crud. Or, if you prefer, the correct scientific term for it is a flocculent percipitate. What’s that, you ask? It’s when the solution has a billowy cloud-like substance in it. This scary happening occurs most frequently with red dyes. In my dyeing experiences, I’ve noticed cloudy solutions most often with ProChem’s Bright Red 351.

The guilty culprit.

What do you do after discovering a cloudy dye solution? Maybe you decide to pour it into the dye pot anyways, with the optimistic hope that a lot of stirring will help dissolve it. But be warned, in my experience, that never works. Instead, the flocculent participate won’t dissolve, and smudges of dye will appear on your wool undissolved. My tip to you is: don’t torture yourself with this. What I did to find a solution, was I turned to my scientific side.

I don’t know the exact chemical equation that leads to flocculent participate appearing in dye solutions. What I do know is that it is effected by the pH. Under very acidic conditions, cloudiness can appear, and you can help dissolve it by making the solution more basic. How do you do that?

Our Savior!

In your pantry, you will likely find a box of baking soda. Add small amounts of that baking soda to your dye cup, mixing very well. You’ll notice there will be less and less of the cloudiness in the solution. If you wait about five minutes, and the solution remains clear, then you can move onto the next step of dyeing your wool. If the solution is still cloudy, then that’s okay too. Just add a little bit more baking soda, and it will dissolve.

Take note, when it comes to adding your vinegar: add it very slowly, in small amounts, and stir it well. Baking soda is a base (sodium bicarbonate to be exact), and vinegar is an acid, so there might be some bubbling. The bubbling isn’t something to worry about (all that is happening is the release of carbon dioxide), but it’s good to know to expect it!

Bubbles in the dye solution after vinegar is added to the solution.

If you have a question or comment, feel free to leave it below in the comments for Ania. And have a happy Halloween!