Blue is (not) the colour

Yesterday I took some of my newly cleaned fleece into Morley College to have a go at dyeing it. I was using acid dyes, which I was told came out the colour they appeared (unlike disperse dyes in the heat press, which are always much brighter).

I mixed some scarlet and turquoise dyes to give a deep blackberry colour, added the acid fixer, and mixed them with water in a tea urn. Then I put some fleece in and heated the mixture so that it was hot but not boiling. I left it for 20 minutes, then removed the fleece and rinsed gently in hot water.

To my disappointment, the wool came out salmon pink rather than deep purple – not a colour that appeals to me at all!

A swift consultation with the tutors elicits the explanation that “blue is a difficult colour”. Apparently you have to leave the wool much longer in blue dye for it to work, and even then it can still be problematic.

So I decided to experiment with locks of wool on a smaller scale (a bowl of dye on a hotplate). The photo below shows the effect of using orange, violet and blue to overdye the salmon pink (top row) and on virgin white wool (bottom row).

Even when I left the wool to soak in the blue dye over lunch, the overdyed sample came out with streaks of salmon pink. A bit more work required to crack this, I think!



Published by


Flextiles uses shibori, ecoprinting and felting to create original, one-off upcycled pieces. Extending the life of a garment by an extra nine months reduces its environmental impact by 20-30%.

4 thoughts on “Blue is (not) the colour”

  1. hmmm interesting think I would change my dyes.
    Good learning curve there is brilliant book on colour for yarn and fleece and mixing etc when I am unpacked I will send you the title and author,until then happy days .

  2. Wow – what lovely results. Dyeing is all a bit too scientific isn’t it. I think I rather like the random excitement of the experiments but don’t have the patience to work away to get truly consistent results.


    1. Hilary – I think I will continue to order most of my coloured wool from professional suppliers! But being presented with a fleece has given me a chance to try a few different things starting from first principles, so to speak. And I do have a science degree, so that sort of stuff doesn’t scare me. 😉

      But on the whole I think I would rather spend the time making felt than dyeing wool.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.