Thursday, September 9, 2010

Easy Way To Mottle Your Wools

Much thanks to Suzanne, a reader, who reminded me the other day that I forgot to show how to use coffee to overdye and mottle wool.

Before I get to that though, I need to talk about steam pressing wool.

The picture that I had posted the other day of my newest, easy “Just Pumpkins” pattern design really bothered me.

Here’s the one that is bothersome to me:

just pumpkins 3

I had forgotten to steam press this after I finished stitching it.

See how the bottoms of the pumpkins don’t lay flat?

Here’s how much nicer it looks when it’s steam pressed:

100_4476 There!  That’s much better!

To steam press this, all I did was flip it over to the backside and using a pressing cloth and lots of steam, I lightly ironed it.

Now, only do this with 100% wool.  Don’t steam press it if you’ve used woolfelt, especially if it’s felted woolfelt.  Otherwise, the steam will take all those nice puckered bumps out of the woolfelt. 

So, the patterns for this “Just Pumpkins” candle mat is being printed today so it will be ready for mailing tomorrow.

If you wish to order it, just click the Paypal button over there on the left to purchase.  If you don’t wish to pay by check instead, just email me and I’ll give you my address and payment info.

Pattern price is a very special $7.00, which is $2.00 off the regular price. 

Ok, mottling the wool time.

I had shown in an earlier post how to darken wool by using coffee.

Here’s a quick and really easy way to mottle it, (creating shades of spotty color)

I’m using a small piece of light brown wool for this but any color can be successfully mottled.

Warning! Don’t try this with Wool Felt!  Make sure you’re only doing this with 100% wool

First, you’ll want to soak your wool for a bit in some hot soapy water.


I use a bit of shampoo to soak it but regular liquid dish soap will work just fine too.  I soak it in my kitchen sink while I get everything else ready. 

Turn the oven on:

100_4447 Temperature can be either 325 or 350.  If it’s set at 350, you need to really watch the progress closely so that it doesn’t burn.

You’ll need an old baking pan that you don’t use for cooking/baking anymore.  I have an old white enamel one that’s the size of a cake pan.  For larger pieces, I use an old cookie sheet that has sides.

100_4458 Take your wet wool out of the sink .. no need to rinse the soap out unless you used a lot of soap.

arrange the wool in the pan so that it fits without going up the sides.  It’s ok to bunch up the wool .. acutally, it’s better if the wool is bunched up because it makes nicer mottles that way.

Take some extra strong coffee and pour it over the wet wool.

Depending on how dark you want the mottles to be depends on how much coffee to pour on it.

If you want lots of deep shading, only pour enough coffee over it to soak it completely.  If you want just light mottling, pour more coffee over it so that it’s completely covered with liquid.

100_4459 Now stick it in the oven. 

The coffee will bake into the wool, usually about 30 minutes is all that is needed, but if you want the mottles really dark, watch it closely because the longer the wool bakes, the dryer the wool becomes and once the coffee has evaporated from that pan, your wool will burn.

I’ve actually let the wool burn a bit if I wanted really dark shading, but always keep a close eye on it.  Your nose will be doing most of the work for you because it’s going to start smelling pretty funky in your kitchen after about 15 minutes.  Naturally, the longer it bakes the stronger the smell so your nose will warn you to go check it.

Since I just want a little mottling on this wool, there’s still quite a bit of liquid left in the pan so when I think it’s baked long enough, I drain it in the sink while rinsing it with COLD water….

100_4460 Heavily mottled wool, since it’s baked almost dry, will sometimes stick a bit to the pan, so use be sure to use tongs and care when removing it from the pan to rinse.

After it’s rinsed with COLD water, I always add just a dab of some shampoo or liquid dish soap to the rinse water.  The soap helps to get the coffee smell out of the wool. Just a note … if you haven’t baked the wool long enough, then rinsing with soapy cold water will take quite a bit of the coffee back out, so it’s important to make sure that the wool has baked long enough for the coffee to heat set into the wool.

Once it’s completely rinsed, using COLD water, gently squeeze it out and throw it in the dryer with an old towel, or I use a couple pairs of old mens jeans.  The dryer will set the color in, so be sure not to skip this step and dry it out on the clothesline.

Dry it completely and then admire your newly mottled wool!


Happy Day everyone!


Delchick41 said...

you are so talented! Thanks for sharing about the mottling.

Cheryl@My Own Snug Fireside

paulette said...

Thanks for doing this tutorial...wonderful!! Can't wait to try this!! Thanks for sharing!!

Cat Haven Crafts said...

Thank you for this tip! I am definitely going to try it out on some vintage wool that I have that is what I called "dirty linen" in color and I'd like to "warm" it up a bit!

Anonymous said... I've been lazy and haven't read your blog for a week or so. Wouldn't you know that I missed a free give away. AND I missed a Casserole Carol mention. time. Thanks so much for the "Hey stupid" note about how to enter the context. I will try to do better next time.

Casserole Carol

The Wooden Acorn said...

Thanks for the tutorial. Just love it and it makes total sense. The outcome is perfect.

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

Thanks Cathy! Great tutorial!