Here is an off-food-blog topic that I’m including because it may be useful information that I was unable to find when trying to dye my flokati rug.
The moment I saw the white wool shag rug at Ikea, I had my heart set on what I learned was called a flokati rug. The rug was to be for the living room we added in our recent remodel. To my dismay, the 6-foot by 9-foot rug I ordered online arrived a different color from the sample and didn’t work well in the room. It was pinkish rather than golden, stood out from the floor rather than blending in, and didn’t match the kraft-paper color of the curtains.
The site owner was unresponsive. (I’m not going to name the site except to say beware of the cheapest option.) In addition, the prospect of returning a 34-pound item was daunting. Besides, I did like the rug’s style and luxurious feel. So I decided to research dyeing. Since I was unable to find first-hand reports about dyeing this type of rug, although off-food-blog-topic, I’m posting my experience as a service in case others might be interested.
CAUTIONS. I must include the disclaimer that this was of course entirely at my own risk and if you try it, at yours. Dye results were surprising, so testing beforehand is essential. Water temperature is important. For my dye to work properly the water needed to be warm, and when doing the final dyeing, I duplicated the temperature of the test as closely as possible.
Staining from the drainage and rinsing wasn’t an issue in my case because I wasn’t changing the color dramatically. Therefore the dye bath was fairly dilute, didn’t need to be rinsed out, and the water could be drained onto our concrete garage floor without staining.
In the end the rug took the dye well and evenly, and I’m very, very happy with the results.
TESTING. First I tried some Rit dye that I had on hand just to test how the fibers took the dye (see blue tuft in photo above). It worked great. After some Internet research, I ordered dyes online. I tried a golden brown fiber-reactive dye, which turned the fibers pinkish-red. The dye company then suggested their acid dyes. Those still turned out too pink. I then tried Rit dyes. Bingo. The final formula was equal measurements of Rit tan (liquid) and golden yellow (powder).
THE POOL. According to calculations the project would require about 100 gallons of water (approximately 3 gallons to 1 pound of fabric). I racked my brain, because my bathtub wouldn’t be big enough. I ended up purchasing a 3-foot by 6-foot family-size inflatable pool from Amazon for $30, free super-saver shipping.
DYEING DAY: I first filled the pool partway in the back yard, but the surface wasn’t level enough. I drained the pool and moved it to the driveway. There the concrete was sufficiently level. The day was predicted to be warm and sunny, and I had intended for the sun to warm the water to the needed temperature. But guess what? Rain.
So then I drained the water again and moved the pool into the garage. But how to get warm water? With the garden hose manually attached to the kitchen faucet I managed to sufficiently fill the pool with warm water. It took an hour and fifteen minutes to get to two-thirds full. I’m pretty sure it was less than the 100 gallons, but I could tell it would be deep enough to immerse the rug with room to move. In a bowl, I dissolved the dyes in boiling water. The dissolving took about 10 minutes. Then I mixed the dye formula into the water in the pool.
Before putting the rug into the dye bath it would need to be wet, so I placed the rug on the garage floor next to the pool and dumped several bucketfuls of water on it. Our garage is sloped toward the overhead door and has a trough drain, so the excess water went into that drain. The wet rug was heavy, but I was able to inch it into the pool to be soaked and stirred for 30 minutes. The dye bath was dilute enough that I could step into the pool and agitate the rug with my feet without staining my skin.
DRAINING AND DRYING. After the 30-minute soak I deflated the sides gradually, one tier at a time, with my foot pressing a channel in the side to direct the slow drainage. I inched the heavy rug out onto the garage floor again, allowed it to drain awhile, then rolled it up and walked on the roll to press out more of the water. When my husband came home from work, he helped put the rug up on boards on sawhorses to allow it to drip and drain. I also directed a fan onto the underside and left the garage windows open. The rug dried surprisingly quickly overnight. Finally, I laid the barely damp rug on the deck, first one side up then the other, to dry completely in the sun. After drying, it seemed to have some tangling that I noticed when walking on it barefoot, so I finger-combed it to remove as many of the tangles as possible.
THE RESULT. Now the rug is the lovely golden brown of the sample and of my imagining, It looks great in the room, plus it’s all clean and fluffed. Love, love, love. Also, now I know the rug can be immersed and dry fairly quickly, so I won’t be afraid to wash it in the future.
LESSONS LEARNED. Take time to test, test, test on small pieces until you get the color you want. Look at your samples in daylight as well as nighttime artificial light. Record quantities and other variables. Reduplicate the conditions of the test as best you can including dye formula, proportions of water to dye, water temperature, and length of time in the dye.
The final lesson for me is that, while big risks can fail magnificently, sometimes, when every effort is made to prepare, they work out and can result in a big reward.