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  • Set up your dye kitchen in 5 minutes or less...

Set up your dye kitchen in 5 minutes or less...

You too can dye in the comfort of your own home without ruining your kitchen or taking up a ton of space. I built myself a portable dye kitchen.  I set it up in the morning and take it down at night when I am done!

In October of 2015 we moved into our brand new house that we spent 2 years building.  I promptly began to dye in our new kitchen, everything was going swimmingly. Until one day - even though I was being extremely careful, I slipped.  In slow motion I watched some of the dye water jump out of the pot and hit the backsplash.  Thank goodness the backspalsh is brown and the red dye water didn't leave a mark.  I was lucky this time but might not be as lucky with our white granite counters next time.  So I set out to create a safe kitchen for myself and I'll have shared the results (along with links of where to buy) below.



Here is what you need:

1. A burner (or two) -  When we hold dye classes in our shop, we use induction burners - they draw less power, you can plug two into the same outlet without blowing a fuse and they turn themselves off if there is no pan on the burner. TIP: No need for the high setting, the medium setting will keep your water plenty hot. We use these:

Gently used Induction Hot Plate from Green Mountain

Hot plate on Amazon

2. A table to put your burners on.  We use these:


They are plastic, lightweight and easy to clean. They also fold away when you are ready to put your dye kitchen away.

3. Measuring cups  Pyrex is a good brand. I was using a glass pitcher for a little while and it wasn't long before it cracked, I assume from the heat.  

Measuring Cup

4. Dye spoons -  There are many options on the Internet from a variety of stores.  Single dye spoons, sets of 3 spoons, and sets of 4.  Which do you need?  Of course, it depends on the amount of wool you are dyeing and the quantity of dry dye you are measuring. The set of 3 offers 6 different sizes from 1/128 to 1/4, but you will find yourself doing a fair amount of extra math.  ie: when you need a half tsp, you will have to use two 1/4 tsp. The set of 4 offers the 6 smaller sizes plus a 1/2 tsp and a 1 tsp size.  Sounds simple, but it can get complicated depending on the formulas you use. 


5. Dyes, Citric Acid and Synthrapol - There are several different brands of dyes, although the most popular are Cushing, Prochem, and Magic Carpet. You can use white vinegar in place of citric acid as the mordant or color stabilizer, but your dye kitchen will smell like you've been pickling all day. Synthrapol or Propasol are the "wetting" agents that you add to your water to pre-soak the wool. This makes the fibers more absorbent in the dye bath.

Cushing Dyes

ProChem Dyes

Citric Acid

6. Pots, Tongs, Gloves and Pans - I bought these items from my local Ocean State Job Lots store, but I think you could get them at WalMart, Target, or possibly even a thrift store. I bought several large stock pots with lids, that hold about a yard of wool each.  If you don't dye a yard at a time, you could use a smaller pot. The tongs I bought have plastic covers on the ends; I do not recommend these. Choose tongs that are just metal with long enough handles to reach into the boiling water without burning your hands. I recommend heavy rubber gloves to protect your hands from the hot water. I use large or extra large Bluette Gloves. I also use light plastic gloves when measuring the dry dyes. I picked up some smaller pans, too for placing the dyed wool in a warm oven to set the color. This allows you to move on to dyeing your next piece of wool! It might be a good idea to have an apron, too. 

Green Mountain Apron

Tip: Remember that if you are using Induction burners, you'll need specific pots containing the right metal to conduct the heat. For more detailed information about induction burners, Using Induction Cooktops

7. Dye books - You can, of course just play and experiment with colors, but if you need to be more precise and want some formulas, here are a few good books to help guide you, or visit our online store and Search Dye Book: Books

For Cushing dyes:

"New Age Green Mountain Colors" by Anne Ashworth. Call the shop for a copy of this booklet.

For ProChem dyes:

Ruckman Mill Farm Dye Book 1

Ruckman Mill Farm Dye Book 2

Ruckman Mill Farm Dye Book 3

Some other things to think about: I put lots of newspaper down on the table and have a roll of paper towels handy.  It helps to catch any water and keeps things from getting messy.  I also put an old towel down on the floor.  We have dark wood floors so I am not worried about them getting stained, but if you have light floors you might want a few extra towels. A sink with running water is another handy thing to have. We have a utility sink in our laundry room which I use. You can use your kitchen sink and not risk spills by putting the entire pot in the sink and filling it with water and slowly dumping it every so often.  You also don't want to dump boiling water down your drain as it may case the glue on pipes to melt and you will have leaks. Cool the hot water down by adding cold water to the pot before dumping.

Feel free to contact us with questions... or 802-223-1333

If you still have questions or want more in-depth instruction, contact Stephanie at Green Mountain Hooked Rugs to schedule a class.

Comments on this post (4)

  • May 16, 2020

    Do you really have 30gallon stock pots? Not 3gallon? or 30litres?

    — Samantha Lane

  • Nov 25, 2019

    What temp do you set your induction plate to? Do you use the heating wattage? I’m wanting to dye in the stainless steel chafing pans for speckling thank you

    — Laura Keevan

  • Mar 08, 2017

    I appreciate all your good advice. You did a great job of explaining everything. I prefer the enamel pots so I can see the colors better but I am sure the stock pots would work well too and sure are a great size. Thanks for taking the time to do blog us.

    — Lee Williams

  • Mar 08, 2017

    Thanks Lindsay, really great article to make it easy for those of us without a fancy dye kitchen and wanting to learn to dye. Would love to join Mariah for her workshop, but not in the area this yr and SC/GA a little far to drive. lol Tell her hello for SC.

    — Marie Trammel Heatley

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