Munsell color system for dyeing

Hi everyone,

Has anyone tried using Karren Brito's Munsell method for creating specific colors?  I was looking at it and it sounds really interesting, but I'm not sure where to find the color charts she uses.

Thoughts?  How do YOU mix to get the specific color you want?



Posted on Thu, 06/03/2010 - 19:22

To me being a good dyer means being able to mix the colors you want.  It requires seeing what the color is and knowing how to mix it.

The Munsell Student Kit is color training.  It comes with the little chips in the envelopes and you have to glue them into the right spot.  This is a lot harder than it seems and in the process of arranging and gluing, you train your eye to see the differences and know that they mean.  Buying the bigger books does not train your eye.   Nor does it give you the understanding to of how to fix a color when your dyeing.  You will understand the terms than Munsell used, hue, chroma and value well too by doing the lessons.  The  kit is a self-study course and very well designed.

In dyeing,  value is depth of shade.  Chroma is limited by the chroma of the pure dyes.  If you have no red with a high chroma value you can not dye any of the red colors with high chroma.  Mixing two color always decreases the chroma.


I urge you to order the kit and do the training.  The kit may seem costly but it is cheaper than a workshop and will greatly increase your ability to mix colors and get what you want.

Posted on Fri, 06/04/2010 - 15:15

Thanks!  I'll see if I can get a copy of the Munsell Student Color kit once I get back from my honeymoon (getting married in 8 days!).  I really want to see if I can figure out color mixing for dyes.

Posted on Sat, 06/12/2010 - 12:40

I agree with Karren....the Munsell kit is an excellent color tool and one well worth the money.  I use a lot of the ideas in that kit in my Color Interaction for Handweavers translates well into using dyes.  . 

Fairchild Publications, New York   ISBN: 1-56367-031-3 The NEW Munsell Student Color Set  (2nd ED)

My copy included the 119 page book The Munsell Color System: A Language for Color by Joy Turner Luke.

Just an aside....I'll be teaching my Color Interaction workshop for the Waterford Weavers Guild in Virginia in November of this them for more info!

Posted on Sat, 06/12/2010 - 15:47

I would be willing to lead such a group.  Do we have enough people who want to invest the time and money into knowing a lot about dyeing and want to mix their own colors.

I envision each participant choosing a fiber (cotton, silk, wool,...), a form (yarn or fabric), and an appropriate dye set.  Let's say Lanaset dyes on silk yarn.   The first activity would be to dye up (immersion dyeing) several depths of shade, DOS, of all the pure, manufactured colors of your dye family and then determine what the Munsell Notation for each of those samples is.   These are the building blocks for any colors you want to mix.  With this info one would build notebooks of samples.

One would need the Student Munsell Kit, enough of the same fiber to do the entire study and all the equipment for reproducible dyeings (measuring devices in ml and grams), and the dyes and auxiliaries.


Anyone interested?  What fiber and what dye?

Posted on Sun, 06/13/2010 - 03:40

I am definitely in!   I do online classes using Webex and I have an unlimited subscription if it would help to do a meeting over the Internet. 

I would be doing wool with Jacquard Acid Dyes. 




Posted on Sun, 06/13/2010 - 15:20


I am very interested in joining a study group like this, but I have very little experience dyeing. I have done a considerable amount of natural dyeing, but that was done more "on the wing" than chemical dyeing is. It would not be a problem for me to get the study materials and the measuring equipment, dyes, etc, but first I want to check to see if this group would be appropriate for a newbie like me. I don't want to be the "weak link"!


Posted on Sun, 06/13/2010 - 18:54

I love weak links, it prevents me from assuming everyone knows somethings and it is the one piece of essential info somebody is missing.

Willingness is a pre-requisite not experience. We will measure everything and try to keep the processing the same.  Some 4th grade math involved.

I do a fair amount of natural dyeing too, and everything you learn is useful in natural dyeing too if you want to reproduce colors and learn from your experience. 

Please join us.

Posted on Sun, 06/13/2010 - 21:19

Sweet! In choosing a fiber, I would like to choose cotton, mostly because I have never dyed cotton before and I use a lot of it.  I read that you have to boil the fiber first - is that correct? If that is too much work, my second choice would be tencel. I hear that it takes color beautifully. I will save the wool for using with my natural dyes.  Any recommendations of fiber (and dyes )would be welcome.

I  think I can get measuring devices at the Chem supply office at the university where I work. Would it be possible to get a list of necessary measuring devices? 

Thanks for helping with this!


Posted on Sun, 06/13/2010 - 23:53

Yes, there will be a list of equipment and supplies. I already started working on the list today. We will be using the metric system to measure things: grams, liters, milliliters.  No teaspoons!

Cotton is much harder to dye than wool but we do it every day.  What dyes did you want to use on cotton?, Jacquard Acid Dyes are not appropriate. And will you be using cotton yarn?

Preparation is an important part of all dyeing and some fibers will need to be scoured to dye well, others will just need to be washed.

Posted on Tue, 06/15/2010 - 00:10


I would like to do cotton 10/2 yarn with Procion MX dye. I was thinking of scouring the yarn by soaking the skeins in Synthrapol and then simmering the mixture for 45 minutes. Would that work? 


Posted on Tue, 06/15/2010 - 00:59

I'd want to do 30/2 silk with Lanaset acid dyes, if that works.  Are we all doing different fiber/dye combinations?

I'm honeymooning in Vancouver this week (after a truly glorious handwoven wedding) but will be back next Monday.  When were you thinking of starting, Karren?


Posted on Tue, 06/15/2010 - 01:19


Don't do anything with the yarn yet, we will determine what needs to be done.  I'm going to ask you why you want to use Procion MX dyes? Do you already have them?  Is it the only fiber reactives you know?  They are the most difficult of the fiber reactive dyes for cotton and other choices could make your life easier.   Do you have access to Cibaron F or FN dyes?  Sometimes we don't chose the easiest path in life.

You seem excited to get started and I would say the first thing to do is to buy the Munsell Student Kit and start reading the material and glueing in the chips.  You need to do this in natural light if you don't want to drive your self crazy.   Each sheet in the kit is a different hue and there is a bag of chips for each hue.  The places where the chips go are marked with an x.  Lay the chips on the spots -- you will soon be switching them around.  When you think that you have them in the right spots, cover them up to keep them in place and come back the next day and see if you still think they are in the right place.  When you stop moving them around you can glue them in place.  Some colors are harder to see the differences than other colors, so do the easy ones first.  You will improve by the time you do 11.  

Learn the vocabulary-hue, value and chroma. Chroma was the hardest to get my head wraped around but doing the chips sure helped.

Posted on Tue, 06/15/2010 - 01:36

I chose Procion MX out of pure ignorance! I am happy to order what you recommend. I naturally seem to chose the hardest path, but am oh-so-very open to making my life easier! LOL I am not so much anxious to get started as I am about being behind from the start! I will order the Munsell kit tomorrow. 



Posted on Wed, 06/16/2010 - 02:02

Jennifer,   Look for the Cibacron F or FN dyes, they behave so much better.

Ok so i think that we have 3 people signed up: Jennifer, Tien when she comes back from the Honeymoon, and Mary Walker.  I need each of you to PM me with the following info:

  • where do you live (so I can help with sourcing), country or state is enough

  • what fiber you want to use

  • is it fabric, yarn or fiber

  • what dyes do you want to use

I think that I will post this on a more seen forum to see if anyone else wants to study with us.  I don't think we can call it a Dye-a-long :). 

I need a place to post info for you all, I was thinking of using and maybe a group on flickr for photos.  What do you think?

Posted on Wed, 06/16/2010 - 02:33

Sounds good to me!  I'll send you a PM now.  Wherever you want to put the info is fine.  I'm planning to blog about the experience as well, and will probably create a tag for the occasion so people can find those blog posts easily.


Posted on Wed, 06/16/2010 - 19:34


I'd really love to do this, but do not have a space to dye. I did just order the Munsell kit, and look forward to working with it. I would love to see your progress as you do the dyeing and hope you will have some visibility here on Weavolution.

Thanks for posting about this.


Posted on Fri, 06/18/2010 - 14:50

Karren, I'd like to do wool using Lanaset.  I've had the Munsell system for some time now, and have puzzled over what you have meant (on other lists) as it being easy to use to dye with, since it isn't really a recipe book in the classic sense.  However, I'd like to take this journey with you.  I'm familiar with dyeing, and have done both value and chromatic systems, and have all the requisite materials. 

Posted on Fri, 06/18/2010 - 15:22

Weavil works:

Did you put the Munsell kit together yourself? What inspired you to do it?

No,  the Munsell system does not have formulas, formulas are very hard in dyeing because they are so dependent on the water, how they are processed, the substrate...  So your formulas will only work for you on the same fiber.  That is why every dyer has to build their own sample library and sampling is just as important a part of dyeing as it is in weaving.

Please send me a PM with the info requested in Post #21.

Posted on Sun, 06/20/2010 - 21:50

I'd very much to join in.

I'm new to Weavolution, and in the unpacking stage (protracted) of a move from CA to 15 miles outside Eugene, OR.

I've done quite a bit of Procion MX dyeing of cotton and tencel; have metric measuring implements (in boxes, somewhere!). The Munsell kit has been on the amazon wish list for months.

I'd like to do silk with Lanaset.

Thank you, Karren.

Posted on Mon, 06/21/2010 - 03:43

Ok. it looks like we are getting to a good size, enough to have good interactions but not too many for a first time on the net.  I need a PM with the personal info, including an email, so that I can give you all access to the pbworks site.

It looks like a July start date, will firm it up when Tien feet touch down on terra firma again.

Posted on Mon, 06/21/2010 - 12:19

 My Munsell kit is scheduled to arrive on Wed.  I have not gathered together any other materials except some cotton yarn. Karren, did you get my PM with the info you requested?


Posted on Wed, 06/23/2010 - 00:02

 My Munsell Kit arrived today. And I started browsing through the PBworks site - Wow! Lots of info there! Thanks Karren!


Posted on Wed, 06/23/2010 - 02:36

 I just finally read this thread.  I'd love to join too.  I'll PM you with the requested information.  I haven't done much dying, so this will be great!


Posted on Thu, 06/24/2010 - 00:58

If it's not too late, I'd also like to join. I'll be using Tencel (either 10/2 or 20/2), probably with Procion MX dyes. I'll send you my info on a PM.

Larry Novak

Posted on Thu, 06/24/2010 - 01:43

I too am interested in participating. I have experience with dyeing, using Sabraset from ProChem on wool yarn, but I am interested in learning how to develop colors based on the color chips. Is there a next step?

Posted on Sat, 06/26/2010 - 00:36


Karren, I would very much like to join this study group. I would use Tencel yarn. I have experience with MX, but would like to use Cibacron F to learn how they react.

Jan H