I've been working on Karen Kahle's "Vermont" rug for months now and I was having trouble finding just the right blues for the sky portion. I previously dyed some pretty blue wool to use for the sky, but I didn't marble it and after it was hooked it looked very 'flat'. I continued hooking the rug, but my eyes kept going back to that flat blue sky and I really didn't like it. (There's so much for me to learn and I've only had the opportunity to take one class, so my learning curve is very slow here.) I searched online for wool to purchase, but again I couldn't find the right shades of blue. I also didn't want to invest any more money into this rug. Not to be discouraged, and being a do-it-yourselfer, I ran across Karen Kahle's method for 'marrying wool' and marbelizing wool. The Website, "Folk 'n' Fiber has the step-by-step process published HERE if you would like detailed instructions. After dyeing my first batch of wool with this method with much success, I photographed the second dye batch so I could share.
The equipment needed for this method is: Enamel pot with no chips, wool, tongs or large spoon, rubber gloves, white household vinegar, apron, powder Tide or powder Borax, rubber bands or string.
To make the wool for my sky, I chose a dark blue wool, a green, and a white wool. These were all pieces I had from old 100% wool garments found or given to me from thrift stores.*I tore the garments into strips that were about equal in size. I layered them in alternating layers of blue, white, green, white, etc. I wanted the white wool to take on the blue and green dye.
Place the wool roll into the prepared pot of water with about 1 tablespoon of detergent. You will use just enough water to cover the wool and you want the wool to just fit inside the pot. So, if you have a small batch of wool, use a smallish pot..The wool goes in dry to begin. No pre-soaking. After I put my wool into the pot, I needed to add a little more water to barely cover it. Smoosh the wool down with the tongs or spoon to mix in the detergent and wet the dry coil of wool.
Simmer the wool coil for 30 minutes. Do not boil the water or the wool will felt which is not good to do! I continued to occasionally smoosh the coil with the spoon to work the colors in.
Rinse the wool in varying steps of warm then cooler water. (You don't want abrupt changes in water temperature on the wool or again, it may felt.) When it's cool enough to handle, cut the ties and rinse the pieces of wool. This is the fun part, to be amazed at how great the wool turned out.
For the final step, I put the wool pieces in the clothes dryer with a towel and a dryer sheet set on medium heat. This fluffs it nicely for hooking.
It's now ready to cut into strips for hooking. Note, the tied areas give the wool the most interest.
I am in the process of reverse hooking (aka pulling out the previously hooked wool strips) and hooking in the newly dyed marbleized wool. Below are the new sky results. No more flat sky! Yay!
*Any time used wool or wool garments are acquired, it is very important to wash the wool before ever introducing it into your home or near your stash of wool. Used wool may contain moth eggs or larvae and could potentially infest all of your good wool. I remove buttons and deconstruct used garments outside the house. Then I take the wool pieces directly to the basement and into the washing machine. I use warm water with a small amount of regular laundry detergent. Then dry on medium heat in the dryer.