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Dyeing for Snow!

Pictorial spot dyeing

By: Lisanne Miller/W. Cushing
Updated November 01, 2017

The hooked pieces shown here are from the W. Cushing Collection called Indian Summer. The dyed pieces accented the pinecones beautifully.

One of the prettiest sights to see while sipping hot cocoa in your cozy home is snow falling outside your window—especially when it is pristine and you have nowhere to go!

Dyeing wool for snow can be tricky, but it need not be. Follow the steps below whether you are a new dyer or experienced colorist! With the following recipe, you will achieve many “shades of snow” to achieve a wonderfully realistic look. The dyed mottled wool is fabulous for hooking a snow scene. 

In the W. Cushing dye kitchen, we dye with four 1⁄4-yard pieces. For this recipe, we used a pure white wool, a natural wool, wool with glitter, and a lightly textured wool with a gray cast—perfect for shadows.

  1. Fill your kitchen sink 3⁄4 full of warm water; add 2 tablespoons of original JOY dishwashing liquid and let the wool soak.  
     
  2. While the wool is soaking, prepare the dye solutions per the dye formula, each color in two cups boiling water. 
     
  3. Use a shallow aluminum pan (a pan dedicated to dyeing—not one of your cooking pans!). Carefully put each 1⁄4 yard of wool (without wringing out the excess water) into the pan, forming small blossoms (some call them cabbages or wrinkles). Each 1⁄4 yard is put in the pan; be careful the wools do not overlap with the last one. Take your time with this step. The more uniform your small blossoms are, the better your mottling will be.
     
  4. When the wool is all in the pan, pour 6 cups of water over the entire pan. This will allow the dye to “float” and blend more evenly.
     
  5. Using Dye #1 (Aqua), and a tablespoon, carefully spoon the dye in areas about the size of a small apple or your fist, 2-3” apart, across the entire pan. Use the entire 2 cups of Dye #1.
     
  6. With Dye #2 (Sky Blue), carefully spoon the dye adjacent to the first dye, letting it overlap with Dye #1. You will use approximately half of the 2 cups of Dye #2.
     
  7. Dye #3 (Silver Gray) is the accent color. Use your tablespoon and place it where an accent is needed or the wool needs to be covered. How much of this dye you use depends on how much mottling you want.
     
  8. Once the pan and dyes are to your liking, pour ½ cup of white vinegar over the entire pan. Cover the pan in heavy duty aluminum foil and place on top of the stove.  Our pan covers two burners and the burners are turned onto medium.
     
  9. Cook this covered pan for approximately 20 minutes, or until the water is clear. Then wring out the wool and dry it. The wool is ready for you to create a winter wonderland.
     
  10. Colors will vary based on many things: the wool, the temperature, the water, and the material your dye pan is made from. It is always best to have fun in the dye pots first and not dye for a specific project.

Images

  1. The wools used in the dye batch: Natural, sparkle wool, white, gray texture 

  2. The soaking wool 

  3. Placing the wool in the large pan

  4. Manipulating the peaks and valleys

  5. All wool in place 

  6. Dyed wool ready for hooking

  7. Dye Formula/W. Cushing & Dye Co. Dyes

Lisanne Miller is the owner of W. Cushing & Co/Joan Moshimer’s Studio; P is for Primitive; and Peace, Love and Wool. Lisanne teaches across the country at rug schools, hook-ins, and other venues.

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