I’ve been doing some reading on wool dyeing in preparation to dye my first batch of wool. I was able to take a class from Liberty Rose a few months ago, and it was great to get some hands on experience with it (and it actually made me even more interested in doing more of it on my own). However, I love reading books on any subject of interest in order to learn as much as possible (and pick up some new techniques). Amazon had two books on hand-dyeing wool that looked pretty interesting, so they soon found their way to my house. Both books contained valuable information, and between the two of them I feel I am ready to tackle this head on.
The first one called Teach Yourself Visually: Hand-Dyeing focuses more on how to dye yarn, but the information and techniques are applicable to yardage as well. The author takes a very technical approach to the subject and includes a lot of different exercises designed to help you better understand color theory and dye formulas.
The book includes an in depth discussion of color and the color wheel, including instructions for creating your own color wheel. There is also a detailed section on preparing to dye, including the equipment needed and safety precautions (this is especially important since you are working with chemicals and acids). For those interested in hand-dyeing silk she also includes information on how to dye plant-based fibers like silk and cotton (cellulose dyeing).
Throughout the book there are color pictures that help explain the techniques discussed. For me, the most useful part of the book are the formulas she suggests for getting different colors. All of her formulas assume you are blending primary colors in order to get a desired color. Her information better helps you understand how to create a spectrum of colors with three primaries, and the book also explains how you can change the depth of a color with the correct proportions of dye and water. Several dyeing techniques are discussed, including immersion, hand-painting, and freestyle dyeing (including a section on how to dye with Kool-Aid).
The second book called Wool Dyeing focuses specifically on how to dye wool yardage for rug-hooking and applique. The book is based on the author’s own intensive workshops she offers in the craft. Her approach is more free form in that she teaches you how to dye without using formulas. She includes the basics of color theory, but instead emphasizes looking at nature for color inspiration and encourages you to experiment with color to achieve the desired results.
The majority of the book is devoted to various dyeing techniques that are described in detail and accompanied by beautiful color photographs. She covers 20 techniques from beginner to advanced, including spot dyeing and shibori (which involves folding, stitching, or wrapping the fabric). The author is less focused on providing specific exercises that teach you about color theory, and instead presents each technique from beginner to advanced with step by step photographs and descriptions.
All in all, both books are great companions to each other and provide a good starting foundation for anyone interested in wool dyeing.