Loopgram: Throw away those enamel dye pots

One thing about rug hooking that has always puzzled me is why we keep doing things the way they were done fifty years ago, even a hundred. Take the enamel dye pot. Why do we keep using these things? The trouble? Rust spots which develop fairly quickly. And yes, even the smallest pin prick of rust will alter the results of the dyed wool. I know this from experience, as recent as last night.

I got my Dorr white wool yesterday - THANKFULLY - and so put on my dye pot in order to begin dyeing the rest of the wool for the background hills for Transfiguration. The results were horrifying. The wool had a slight green cast to it and won't work in my rug.

I went into a panic. I went back over my formulas. I went back through my dye samples and notes. I could find nothing off. I got out a white paper towel and dripped some of the formula straight on the paper. It matched my rug, not the wool I had just dyed! Something had to have entered the pot after I put the formula and wool into the water. I examined my enamel pot and found A TINY RUST SPOT!

So I got out my glass canning jars and ran a sample piece of wool through the process. The result. A perfectly dyed piece of light blue wool with no green. Here is the comparison, the correct piece is on the bottom, the rust-subjected piece is on the top.

I tossed and turned last night thinking about this and in the morning I got up and went out to the garage, rummaged through the cabinet, and pulled out my old ceramic crock pot which I never use anymore now that I live in the south and don't cook those stews for winter meals. ANYTHING used in dyeing can NEVER be used in cooking again. Dye is poison and must be treated as such. So the crock pot has been sacrificed and is now a dye pot forever.

I turned it on and, since one of the liners has a double bowl, I set about stewing two dyes at once! Covered it. Thirty minutes on high, add vinegar, and thirty more minutes on high. And now I have two beautiful wools to incorporate into my rug (only two more to go). No boiling over. No adjusting the temperature. No smell of simmering dye filling my house. No mess.

The lesson I learned is to throw away my enamel pots. From now on, I am using a pyrex glass dish to soak my wool and the ceramic crock pot to stew and my glass mason jars to dye graduated swatches. I am a CROCK POT CONVERT!