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Dyeing Shades on Wool

Updated: Feb 27, 2023

Shades are primary colors mixed with various percentages of black, as opposed to tints, which are measured dilutions of dye (in paint, a tint adds white, but since there isn't a white dye, we dilute them to make them lighter).

In this series of yarns, I've mixed a primary, bright Lanaset red dye (704G) with black, in amounts from 10% to 90%. All of the dye mixes are the same 1% depth of shade (dos), and use 56 ml of dye on a 120 yard, 2oz. skein.

Here you can see that a bright color will get toned down pretty quickly with the use of just 10% of the black, creating a beautiful range of maroon, raisin and rich dark chocolate-red colors. The lesson is that the deep black should be used in very small amounts if you are just trying to tone down a too-bright color. There are other options to do that as well, for example, using a complementary color or an already muted primary, such as indigo or brown.

This is a quick view of my system of recordkeeping for dye formulas.


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