Seeing red.

Saturday morning was spent in the laundry room, dyeing wool for the red field in my Oriental carpet. I had set aside the time to do what I felt was needed to complete the rug.

I’ve always been told that the secret to reproducing results is all in the notes. Luckily I had kept extensive notes from the first dyeing. Some had pencil notations beside them, where adjustments had been made. I recall that the blue had given me a bit of trouble. In fact I needed to do three batches before arriving at a colour I liked. However, the red looked as if it had worked without modification. So, I figured this wouldn’t be too hard.

As I watched my pot, even before I started to abrash, I was pretty sure that this batch was considerably darker than the first red. But, since I am a relatively novice dyer, I hoped the difference was wet versus dry wool.

Since I was dyeing a yard this time, I did 1/3 yard in one pot with the regular formula and the other 2/3 in a large pot with the recipe doubled. Once the yard was dyed, abrashed and dried, it was very different. It was easy to see the formula was the same, but it looked twice as dark. I know that Oriental fields have quite a bit of variation in the colour, but wasn’t too sure how this would work.

After hooking a bit of it into the rug, and mixing it up with the red already in, I could see that this was a much bigger jump than an abrash would give. I pulled out about 1/3 of the previously hooked lighter red and replaced it with the new colour. Then I tried hooking in a new area with the new colour and adding in some of the first batch.

I am not sure what I will do going forward, but I have a few options and a few lessons learned.

Option 1: I continue to pull rows of the light colour and replace with the darker, leaving a smattering of the lighter value to give visual interest.

Option 2: I pull all the lighter colour, use it as the outline colour in the outside border and replace nearly all of it with the new red, which I can hopefully match if I need more. In the event that I need to dye more wool to finish the background, I will get to that without a year passing in between. And the wool will come from the same bolt. I will use the same water and the same pot.

Lesson 1: I will also wet a piece of the existing colour I am trying to match so that I can tell when to pull the wool out of the bath. (Had I thought about doing this on Saturday, I could have used the rest of the dye to make another batch of a lighter colour for another project.)

Lesson 2: From now on I will try to calculate the amount of wool required for a project and dye it all at once, since it would appear that I am unable to recreate exactly the same colour. Should I dye too much wool in the process, it can always be used in another project.

Am I upset by the turn of events? Not really, although I am a bit disappointed at my inconsistent results. I guess it’s just a matter of getting into the dye pot a bit more and experimenting and building confidence. I envy those who enjoy the dyeing as much as the hooking. This is definitely not the case for me.

Once I try my options 1 and 2, I will hopefully not have to go back into the pot for this. Hopefully next time I can go through this whole ordeal next time with another colour. Yikes. The thought of that makes me blue.


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