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Dyed in the Wool

Dyed in the Wool

I have heard the expression “dyed in the wool” many times but I thought I’d look it up. According to Wikipedia, the expression “dyed in the wool” refers to a state of steadfastness, especially with respect to one’s political, religious or social beliefs. The expression comes from the fact that fabric can be dyed in a number of ways. The woven fabric may be dyed after it is complete, or the threads may be dyed before they are woven. When a color is “dyed in the wool,” the wool itself is dyed before being spun into threads, so the color is least likely to fade or change.

So that’s exactly what I have been doing this week, dyeing wool for my upcoming felting class for high school students. The class is Saturday so I’ll write about that next week. I have at the least 30 students in three classes and perhaps a few more late sign ups. So I needed to make sure that I had enough wool for all of them to make a phone case. The phone case takes about 2 ounces of wool (56.7 grams).

Wool Before Dyeing

The first thing I did was to separate out 8 ounce (226.8 grams) sections that would fit into my dye pots easily. I decided a total of 80 ounces would be enough as that would take care of 40 students. So I separated out 10 sections. The wool I am using is “Mixed 56’s” from RH Lindsay.

Dye Pots on the Stove

I put two pots of water on the stove and heated them up. I then added a ‘glug’ of vinegar from the jar and added 3 teaspoons of dye powder to each pot. I know that a ‘glug’ is not a scientific measurement but I added some vinegar and didn’t measure it. After stirring, I added the wool roving. It works best if you don’t wad up all the roving and shove it in the pot. Just start feeding one end of the roving into the dye bath and it sinks right in. Towards the end of this process, I used the dye spoon to get all the wool to sink into the dye bath. After that point, I don’t stir the wool at all.

A Peak Inside

Here’s a peek into one of the dye pots. I used blue, black and purples as the cell phone cases are to be “cosmic” and the main color will be the sky color. You can see the timer going on the stove. I steamed these for 20 minutes each.

Wool Snakes in the Bathroom

After I steamed them, I pulled them from the pot with a spoon and rinsed gently and then spun them out in the washing machine. Here are all the colors hanging on the shower rod in the bathroom. Dennis came out of the bathroom later and said “I was attacked by wool snakes in the bathroom, there were thousands of them.”

Dyed Silk Noil

I also dyed some silk noil. I shouldn’t have put it in the pot at the same time as it did get a bit stuck in places to the wool but since it will be used as an embellishment, I don’t think it will hurt to have some already in the wool.

Charcoal Grey

This one is charcoal grey. I used the black exhaust bath to make this one. I just added more vinegar to the black dye bath after dyeing the black wool and added this wool to it.

Deep Purple

This one is a very dark purple, almost black in places. I did not make a fresh dye bath for each batch, I just kept adding vinegar and dye to what I already had in the pot. I couldn’t reproduce these colors but that’s OK with me.


And this is the black one. I thought maybe if I had young men in the class, they wouldn’t want a purple cell phone case. So maybe they will think black and grey are more manly. Who knows?

Red Violets and Violet

These are in the red violet family. I thought these were more “girly” colors.


And then I made a set of blues from lighter to dark.

Blue Violet

And the last one is blue violet. I am going to make up packets for each of the students with 2 ounces of background wool and then 5-6 pieces of a variety of colors for embellishing and making planets and “cosmic” stuff. I will also include small amounts of silk noil.

A Large Pile of Dyed Wool

Here’s the entire pile of wool. I really like the range of colors. I hope the students will like them too.

A Handful

I thought that some of you might like to see how big 8 ounces of wool is. That is my thumb in the bottom left of the photo. So on to making packets for the class and we’ll see how high school students do with 1 hour and 45 minutes to make a felted phone case. Hopefully, their teacher won’t lose it 🙂

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