dyeing with onion skins

Thank you for your lovely comments on my beginners crochet, I enjoy learning it, although this past week I haven’t done much. I tried to make a small flower hair pin and crocheted a simple necklace – just a chain stitch with a bead on every stitch. The beads have to be threaded on a yarn before you start to crochet. Here it is.

bead necklace

crochet pin b

I have done a lot of felting, which I still need to document, most of it is in white. And I have been dyeing with onion skins and I am very delighted with the results. Just look!onion dyed merino wool b

On the left, 50 g of merino dyed with skins from white onions, on the right, another 50 g dyed with red skins. There was still so much colour in both dyebaths, I poured them together in one pot and dyed another 50 g of merino and achieved very good colour, similar to the merino on the left, just a bit darker. And because there seemed to be still a lot of colour after this second exhaust, I continued dyeing…

comfrey dyed merino overdyed with onion skins b

This is comfrey dyed merino (100 g) which I overdyed with onion skins. Mind you, this is the third exhaust! of both white and red onion skins.  So, altogether 250 g of wool, dyed with 250 g of skins from white onions and 100 g of skins from red onions. I am sure I would still get a good colour from the 4th exhaust, but I got exhausted…:) and ala India Flint, I just wrapped the used and wet skins in a silk shirt and made a bundle. Now I will try to forget about it and open at the end of the summer to see the pattern…

It seems like we live on onions :),which we don’ t. This amount I have accumulated over the past almost a year and mainly from the groceries: whenever I would do my shopping I would take skins from the veggie part.

Oh, not to forget, this is silk and tencel, both dyed in the first dyebath, on the left white skins, on the right red. I am pleased especially with tencel, since it is a celullose fibre and doesn’t take up natural dyes as well as protein silk or wool.

mul silk and tencel dyed onion skins b

I mordanted the wool with alum and tartar and always had onion skins in the bath with the wool, not all as the pot wasn’t big enough. Also, I left the wool in the dyebath overnight, or sometimes even a day. Books say that lightfastness of this dyestuff is not good, wheras the washfastness is. It should withstand felting, but will probably fade after some time. Never mind, I like these colours very much as well as  the fact that it is  so available and eco-friendly. 

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5 thoughts on “dyeing with onion skins

  1. Beautiful crochet, and your dyeing experiments are lovely! I took a dye lecture/class from a woman who did dye work quite extensively in the 70s with her children. She had kept all of her dye sample swatches. Incredible!

  2. Your crochet necklace is lovely – really delicate and pretty. I love the vibrant shades you got with the onion skins too – my onion dyeing was paler as I took the skins out before the wool went in. I was pleased with the colour but I think next time around I’d leave them in and hopefully get deeper shades. I must try red onions too – your results look so yummy!

  3. The necklace is so beautiful in its simplicity!
    I don’t get white onions here, just the golden ones and red ones, and I have dyed with them and loooved the colors. I only used vinegar and salt (as I didn’t know about alum and tartar… I now found tartar but Im still looking for alum). Someone told me, smuggly, that that was all wrong and wouldn’t last. That I should do the lightfastness test (keep a sample in the dark and another sample constantly exposed to sun light for a week or month…) and see that it wouldn’t work. Problem is that after that test, it still has a good color, and both samples had the same color… so…..mmmh… dunno. It still looks cool with felting…lovely golden color.

  4. love your colours!

    i have to say that onion skins are STILL my favorite thing to dye with- easy to get, easy to process, and just saturate whatever fibres you put in them with delectable sunshiney hues of gold. never a big fan of yellow, these shades have converted me 😀

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