Thursday, August 26, 2010

Overdyeing That Bright Wool (Quick and Easy)

If you’re a wool collector, then you should already know this easy way to tone down those brightly colored wools. 

But there are quite a few readers who are just starting out and learning to use wool so I’ll share how I used to darken those bright colors.  Coffee staining!

Here, I have a beautiful piece of red wool….


Let’s overdye with COFFEE  to get that bright red turned into a dark red!

To do that, you need a dye pot.  You shouldn’t use your everyday pots and pans for any kind of dyeing so if you don’t have an old pot, just take a visit to your local thrift store and buy one for a few bucks.


It doesn’t have to be a white enamel pot like this one, but white enamel is nice because when dyeing, it’s easier to see the dye color in the pot.  If you see a white enamel pot grab it up though!

So, brew yourself a pot of strong coffee … or tea works too. 

Pour the coffee into the dye pot and heat it until it’s simmering.

Turn down the heat and drop in your bright wool.

If you don’t have enough coffee in the pot, just add some water or more coffee to cover the wool completely.

Let it simmer for … hmm … maybe 20-30 min or so.  Make sure it’s a low simmer … don’t boil the wool.

Stir it often so that the coffee will be evenly distributed thoughout the wool.  If you want a lot of mottling in the wool, don’t stir it.

For this wool, since it’s so bright, I’m going to stir often so that it’s all one color.   I can always mottle it later.

It’ll be about this point that people will start walking into the kitchen, thinking that they will be able to get a cup of freshly brewed coffee, so be prepared to disappoint.

Once it’s done, take the wool out and rinse it with COLD water. 

Squeeze it gently to get the water out and then throw it in the dryer with a pair of old jeans or a couple old towels. 

The heat from the dryer will set the dye in.

And here we have the darker, overdyed wool!


I don’t think you can tell from the pic, but it does have a nice subtle mottle. 

Coffee  and/or tea staining gives such nice results, but just know that there might be some fading over time.  If you coffee stain white/natural colored wool, in about 5 years, the color will be faded out.

But for darker wools like this, coffee staining is great, and the fading is less noticeable. 

I think I’m going to mottle this a bit more so if I get a chance today to do it, I’ll be back tomorrow to show how I’ve done that.

Happy day everyone!


SUE said...

Wow! That was easy. I am working on a project now and passed up the bright red in a hit or miss boarder because it looked too new. I will stain it. Thanks for the tip! SUE

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

Thanks Cathy! I'm going to try this too!

terry said...

Great tutorial. I will try this method soon.

Terry in So. Calif.