Over the weekend, I finally got around to dyeing some yarn with onion skins. I have been saving them for a long time, to be sure I would have enough. It was such a fun experience and turned out great. I’m already looking at plants and things differently, wondering what they will do if thrown into a dye pot. I fear I may become the crazy lady who saves every scrap for future dyes. I definitely want to venture further into this craft and am on the look out for some secondhand pots and supplies.
There are a lot of great sites out there that share how to mordant and dye yarn with onion skins (I’ve listed some below and a simple Google search will provide more) and I’m still pretty new to this and made some mistakes so I’ll spare you a how-to from me. But I will say that I used a half a skein or 2 ounces of Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool, alum, cream of tartar and onions put in the leg of an old pair of stockings. Since we still had the double burners on the porch from doing up red cabbage and corn, I was luckily enough to do this outside.
It was fun to watch the onion “tea bag” slowly change the color of the dye water. It started off a very pale yellow, then a golden honey to a more reddish gold and finally a rich, almost blood red. I got a little excited that the yarn would be this beautiful red but it ended up the autumnal nutmeg color you see in the photos.
The biggest mistake I regret is that I either used far too much alum or it didn’t fully dissolve, so the yarn is a bit sticky. This could have been impatience on my part in not waiting for it to dissolve or the fact that it came from a 33 year old tin I found in my Grandmother’s spice cabinet. I’m hoping another gentle wash with Eucalan Wash will fix it.
These are the sites I bookmarked and found the most helpful: mordanting instructions via Earth Guild (though, these are the alum measurements I used and regret) and All Fiber Arts, and dyeing with onions via Ways of the Whorl and Crafty Katie.
So, now I have around 200 yards of this worsted weight yarn in a warm pumpkin color to find a good project for. I am open to project and pattern suggestions (perhaps a hat?)
The other half of that Fishermen’s Wool skein? Well, that’ll have to wait until I have collected enough walnuts.
Have you ever done any natural dyeing?