Sunday, June 22, 2008

Stone Soup Dyeing

As a little Sunday surprise, I've put together "my version" of Stone Soup dyeing.

I read about this technique in the book "Rugs For My Red Cape" by Edyth O'Neill. If you don't have the book, you might contact Edyth and see if she has any copies available. I can't seem to locate any of these on-line....perhaps eBay? I'm telling you....when something this great is published you'd best snap it up while it's there. Not to be a tease, but it has sooooo many great pictures of her rugs and her color sense is just amazing!

First you need to gather together your dyeing essentials. My essentials are:
  • 2 cup measuring cup
  • something to stir the dye with...preferably plastic
  • tongs to move my wool about
  • electric tea kettle for boiling water on the fly
  • citric acid or vinegar to set your colors
  • perhaps some foil or plastic on your countertop in case you get a little messy

For this technique you will also need a packet of dye....I'm using Cushings (they have GOBS of colors) just click on the color card below to go to their website.

and I'm doing several different colors so I've selected:

  • bronze
  • old gold
  • spice brown
  • woodrose
  • royal blue

You'll also need some dishwashing liquid, Jet Dry or synthropol as a wetting agent for your wool. I use a little dishwashing liquid (no bleach please as this will eat away at the fibers of your wool) and a little Jet Dry.
Then of course you need your wool. You'll need about a pound of wool for this. You can use new I'm using 5 different wools, 1/4 yard of each.

This is an awesome way to dye your recycled wools and bits and pieces left over from other projects.....I'm dyeing both ways today.....I have so many recycled wools and scraps that I really should get in there and do this more often!

Then of course you'll need a pot to dye your wool in. I'm not a pot you can see I have stainless steel, white enamel and an old black enamel canning pot. I use the larger pots for the stone soup dyeing.

Now, bring your water up to a simmer

and then empty your ENTIRE packet of dye into your measuring cup.

You know how there is always a bit of "dye dust" left in the can add a little water to get some of that out or save it back and on a day when you just need a wash of color over white you can add a little water to it and use that.....waste not want not!

Add your boiling water to your dye in the measuring cup and stir it around for about a minute until it's completely dissolved......kind of like you do when making Jell-O. Once it's dissolved, add it to your dye bath.

Now you can add your wool that has been soaking in the water (soak in warm water and make sure the wool is completely wet all the way through...if you forget your soaking wool and it gets cold just run it under some warm water before adding it to the dye bath...this will help you avoid those "white core" areas) and wetting agent and give it a gentle stir. I've added the 3 darkest pieces of wool and I'm going to let them "stew" for about 5 minutes. Then I'll add the lighter pieces....this will give me even more variation in my colors....I'm using "bronze" by the way in these tutorial pictures.
Now, if you stir MORE your wool coloring will be more even.

If you stir LESS it will be more mottled.

Same goes for the water.....

more water and more space for the wool to move around....MOVE EVEN

....less water and more wool squished in the pot.....MORE MOTTLED.

More notes on mottleing and dyeing.

If you add your setting agent (citric acid or vinegar) in with the will be MORE MOTTLED...

if you add your setting agent towards the end.....MORE EVEN.

In this batch I'm adding my citric acid towards the end....I use about 1/4 tsp for 1/2 yard, so on this I'm using 1/2 tsp. of citric acid. If you are using vinegar I'd say about 1/2 cup for this be honest I just give it a few "glugs".....this is NOT rocket science...this should be FUN!

Once your water is clear or near clear you can take your wool out and rinse it and let it dry. I prefer to put mine through a quick wash cycle and put it in the dryer with a dryer sheet to really fluff it up.

Here are the results!

Old Gold

Spice Brown


Royal Blue

Go forth and be creative,


*it has been recommended that you wear gloves and a mask when dyeing*

*do not use the tools that you dye with to cook with*


  1. REALLY NICE tutorial Tammy! You are such a wonderful sharing person.

  2. Tammy,
    Thanks so much. You make it sound so easy. I had asked about this earlier. Hope this tutorial will be available for awhile so I can refer back to it. Might be the first thing I do with actual dyes in it.


  3. Great lesson Tammy!!! Love your new kitchen,your stovetop looks pretty awesome.Thanks,Julie