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Fowl Mood

Because Rug Hooking Magazine did not use all the photos I submitted for the Fowl Mood article in their new pattern book, I will do a quick recap on this page.  You will still need the book, but these photos ought to clarify the process.


1. Use previously dyed, dry pieces of wool for the transitional dye process.  Each piece was 1/32 of a yard.  Amounts needed and suggested colors are listed in the book.  The pieces of previously dyed wool were overlaid in the pan as shown in this photo.  I do give a little thought to how I layer them, particularly if am dyeing with something specific in mind.  i.e. for the rooster – I make sure some red lays on the hot orange … and some green, etc.   However, the main thing is to alternate lights with darks, etc.


2.  After putting one layer of wool in the pan, as shown here, lay a second row on top of the first, etc., until all the wool is layered in the pan.  (Sometimes I do 3 or 4 complete layers.)    Dissolve a bit of Synthropol or dish detergent in some clear water and carefully pour it over the wool.  Put enough water in the pan so that there is plenty for the wool to soak up – however, don’t over do it so that the wool is swimming around.


3.  Once the water is in place, turn on the heat and cook until the wool pieces start to bleed on each other.  The longer it cooks, the more it will bleed.  When the bleed is obvious, pour in some clear vinegar or citric acid dissolved in a little water.   Make sure the acid is distributed throughout the pan, but don’t disturb the wool.  (You can add a weak solution of gold dye at this time if you want – something that looks like onion skin dye … it sort of helps to marry the colors.  However, I rarely do that and like my stronger colors quite well.)  Cover with foil and simmer on a low heat for about 20 mins.  Make sure there is enough water in the pan so it can’t burn dry.

4.  After about 20 mins. check to see if the water is clear.  Even if it is, I usually stir the wool up a bit at this point, just to make sure the acid goes through out the wool, and simmer for another 5 mins.


You will get a rainbow of married colors that hook up great.

As for marbleized wool – these illustrations were from other batches – not that which was used for fowl mood.  However, the process is the same.


1. Take 3 pieces of dry, previously dyed wool.  I use Dorr, off the bolt wool for this and almost always use a light, medium and dark color.  For Fowl Mood, I used a light green, strong gold and medium teal color.  Cut the wool into quarter yard sections and lay them directly on top of each other.

2.  Widthwise, roll the wool up just like you would rug.  Once tightly rolled, twist the two ends in opposite directions until the roll wants to go back on itself.


3.  It ought to look like a tobacco (or yarn) twist.  Secure the ends with string so that the twist can not unroll.


5.  Place the dry wool in a kettle and add water until it comes up mid way on the twist.  (I usually do three twists at once.)  Add a bit of Synthropol or detergent to the water to help the dye release.  Turn on the heat and simmer until it is obvious that the wool is bleeding – about 15 mins.  When the desired bleed is achieved, add some vinegar or citric acid, cover with a lid and reduce heat.  Simmer for about 20 mins.


The end result will be three very different, but related, pieces of wool that come out of the same twist.


9 comments to “Fowl Mood”

  1. linda Says:

    Gene, as they say ‘a picture is worth …’ Your photos are perfect for illustrating a technique I was having a hard time visualizing. I understand and will be ‘messing’ around on the stove today … thanks

  2. Gene Shepherd Says:

    You are welcome Linda. Let me know if you have any questions and be sure to let me see how your wool turns out. GRS

  3. Phyllis Says:

    Gene, that’s the most interesting marbelized wool I’ve ever seen – it must be that double twist that makes it special. Thankyou for this addition to the book.

  4. linda Says:

    Gene, I obviously don’t know what 1/32 yd dimensions are, as seemed to have ripped my pieces smaller than yours! I had my best bleeding with red [surprise?] and blue … suspect primary colors are the best? and, of course, yellow soaked colors right up! I think next time, I will rip wool the length of my pan, and reverse how you line them up – more useful for me? Any thoughts?

    Marbleizing will come later when I have time … really love your look!


  5. Gene Shepherd Says:

    Linda, My strips are about 3 1/4 by 16 1/2, “about” being the operative word. They always vary a bit. (I usually do this with new wool in consistent sizes as I often sell it. However, you can use what ever size strips you choose. Some colors do give more dye than they get, red and purple being examples, but most dark colors also fall into that category with most light colors taking up more of their neighbors wool. Any size pan will also work with wool going which ever direction you want. Go with what suits you. It is not a regimented affair. Glad you are having fun. Do we have any photos to share of your work? GRS

  6. linda Says:

    I wish I could give you photos, but my camera will no longer connect with my computer to post online …

    Thanks for the strip size … that is more like I am thinking … and, in my large restaurant steamer pan they’ll be perfect … I used a smaller pan for the first try and that is where I will be laying the longer strips along the longest edge …

    Will let you know what results I get next time … interesting, but my deep purples didn’t bleed much and since they are a red/blue formula, I was very surprised …

  7. linda Says:

    Forgot to mention, since I sell wools, these longer strips are more in keeping with what else I have around for my students… me again

  8. Arline Keeling Says:

    I got my book the same day that I got my cookbook from you…..I may be partial, but your rooster is the greatest……I am going to start rounding up my colors…..You are so good at explaining things..I know some people have a hard time with written instructions, but with your pictures it can’t fail……….It is a shame they didn’t include more of your colors of wool. They were so beautiful…….I copied them but my printer certainly doesn’t do them justice…But they are in my idea notebook (If you could call it that).
    V. Sharmay

  9. JoAnne Wood Says:

    I’m going to have to try this technique – when I get back from MY camp in the Adirondacks. Two months in the deep woods, on a river, in a cabin with only electricity and a path out back. Cell phones cannot even penetrate, or TVs etc. Ah…quiet. See you in the fall.

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