Dyeing Rugs?

I’ll admit, dyeing a rug may seem like a drastic move. After all, somebody (me) put hours into hooking the rug, who in their right mind would take a risk and throw it into a dyepot!!!

block party for web

Block Party Rug, 23.5″x30″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

I made this Block Party Rug for my book, Rug Hooker’s Guide to the YARNIVERSE! to demonstrate how with yarn, we can take advantage of natural colors in our designs, something that is impossible when hooking with fabric strips, so the Block Party Rug showcased some of the yarn companies that are doing natural colors.

That served its purpose, but as time went on, I decided the rug seemed kind of drab in my booth. Not many people are looking for a natural colored rug, especially one with so much white in it. So what did I have to lose?

dyeing rug 1 for web

Block Party Rug, soaking in water, with spray bottle, dye and spoon ready to go

First, I soaked the rug in plain water. Then I filled the spray bottle with water, and a tiny smidge of Sugar Plum dye. I laid the rug out on the grass, and started to spray the dye on the rug, front and back. I quickly noticed that the Sugar Plum wasn’t adding to the natural colors, it was looking too muddy.

dyeing rug 3 for web

Here’s the rug with the first application of Sugar Plum. I decided the purple wasn’t adding anything to the grays, it was just looking muddy.

No problem. I just switched to Turkey Red, and kept adding layer after layer of color until I had evenly distributed dye, both front and back.

dyeing rug 5 for web

The Turkey Red brought out the browns and grays without making them look too blah.

Now came the moment of truth. Putting the rug into the pot and heating it up.

dyeing rug 6 for web

After it simmered in the pot for about 20 minutes, I rinsed it out: I first filled another pot with hot, soapy water, and transferred the dyed rug into that. Then I filled another pot with clean, hot water, and transferred the rug, squeezing it to remove excess dye, to the new pot. Be very careful, the rug is hot, so do wear gloves, and take your time with this part.

dyeing rug 7 for web

Carefully transferring the dyed rug from the soapy pot to the clean water pot. I repeated the clean water step several times, until the water ran clear. Always use very hot water for the rinse (if you shock wool from hot to cold when wet, you’ll have a felted mess!) and always wear gloves to protect your hands.

dyeing rug 8 for web

Yikes! A splotch!

It seems some dye collected in a part of the rug that was folded down too tight. I think I could have avoided the splotch if I would have lifted the rug and moved it around in the simmering step. You live and learn. But it’s not a tragedy, it’s just a new challenge, right?

dyeing rug 10 for web

I overdyed some new yarn, using natural colors, so I would have something to play with, then I re-hooked some of the sections, hoping to even out some of the splotchiness.

dyeing rug 9 for web

It ain’t perfect, but none of my rugs ever are! Now I have a rose colored, quilt-patterned rug that I think will have a much better chance of finding a home! Stay tuned!

This month’s Featured Rug is actually a bunch of rugs, made by Jane Sittnick of Newbury, MA. Jane is an intrepid artist who hooks with all sorts of non-trad materials, like t-shirts and sweaters. You’ve got to see her artistry and ingenuity!

jane miscou moose for web

Miscou Moose, 20″x17″ Designed and hooked by Jane Sittnick, using a variety of wool, synthetics knits, nylons, woven silk, velvet and yarns

What a great segue for me to announce my upcoming book (in which Jane’s rugs and those of many other wonderful artists are featured) called T-Shirt Treasures, coming out next month!

t shirt treasures cover made darker cropped for web

Don’t forget that for every $50 you spend at Little House Rugs between now and Nov. 25, 2018, you will be entered to win the Antique Flower Rug (below).

antique flower rug cropped for web

Antique Flower Rug, 33.5″x24.5″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

Happy Hooking Everyone!

Judy Taylor






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