Friday, December 13, 2013

Overdyeing Wool with Onion Skins

Yellow (and some red) onion skins afloat

If you're reading this, you likely have lots of yarn in your house ;o)

And sometimes the yarn isn't exactly the right color you want or need for your next project, agreed? There are lots of ways to remedy this -- but the easiest way, in my book, is to overdye the color. And one of the easiest ways to dye anything is to work with onion skins, right on the stovetop.

I had some wonderful 18/2 superfine merino from JaggerSpun in Maine. (If you don't know about this great company and its wonderful products, here's the link: I knitted it up on my knitting machine and then felted it (more correctly, fulled it) so that it became more sturdy and funky. Still, it was soft pink. Sometimes that's a hard sell.

Love the fabric, but maybe not the color?

What to do next? Embellish? Shibori resist and dye in an indigo vat? Overdye? I had lots of onion skins in the cupboard, and I envisioned getting a rich peachy coral after immersing the fabric for an hour or so. I also added some machine-knitted fabric made of fine linen singles in white, just to see what would happen.

Soaked everything in lukewarm water for about an hour before dyeing, to open up the fibers and make them more receptive to the dye. No mordanting necessary (although it would likely make the dye more permanent). Throw the onion skins in the pot and bring them to a boil.

Great for dyeing: those big enamel pots that are used for canning

Strain the boiled onion skins out of the golden dye liquid (being careful not to overload the garbage disposal, as I did, which clogged it up, and being careful not to dye the white enamel sink, as I did, to a warm golden hue that had to be scoured away). Throw the fabric in the dye and again bring it close to a boil. Let everything cool to room temperature. The results were not quite as vivid as I had hoped, but I think that the color will work.

 Linen fabric on the left, wool underneath

I would call the color a light salmon, very gentle and spring-like. Much closer to what I liked. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Celebrating 12 Years of Fiber Artistry!

Sample from my workshop on weaving with hand-dyed 60/2 silk

Weaving and Fiber Arts Center
Open House
Saturday, January 4, 2014, 1-4 p.m.

Studio 1940, Piano Works Mall
349 West Commercial St.
East Rochester, NY 14445

The public is invited to help mark the 12th anniversary of the Weaving and Fiber Arts Center at an open house on Saturday, January 4, 2014, from 1 to 4 p.m. There's a lot to celebrate!

Since January 2002, the Center has offered courses in weaving and fiber arts for all ages and skill levels. Twelve years since its founding, the facility has become a valuable resource for the growing number of fiber artists throughout the Rochester region and western New York State.

Consider these statistics:

  • The Center opened in January 2002 offering 22 classes to a roster of 129 students during its first class session. Today, for its current four-month session, the Center offers 57 classes to approximately 300 students!

  • In weaving classes alone, 92 students are currently registered, with waiting lists in a number of classes. In knitting classes, 85 students are registered.

  • The Weaving and Fiber Arts Center has helped boost membership in its parent organization, the Weavers' Guild of Rochester, by more than 50 percent. In 2002, the Guild had 121 members, while today membership stands at 184.

Visitors are invited to come and meet instructors, see demonstrations, and view sample work representing all the January to April 2014 classes. Demonstrations will include floor loom weaving as well as rigid heddle, inkle, table, and tapestry loom weaving – plus spinning and the use of Fiberworks (computer software for weavers). Instructors and students will be wearing garments, scarves, and other accessories they have made. Everyone is invited to bring their fiber friends – and even kids will have an opportunity to try weaving.

The Weaving and Fiber Arts Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, is the primary outreach activity of the Weavers’ Guild of Rochester, Inc. Managed entirely by guild volunteers, it is supported by course tuition and tax-exempt gifts.

For photos, instructor biographies, details on classes and online registration, visit the website at

Tapestry by instructor Mary McMahon

Felted scarf by instructor Marie Brate

Knitted and beaded shawl by instructor Lynne Sherwood

Fabric dyed with cochineal using shibori-resist techniques, 
by instructor Evelyn Kitson

Join Me for a 'Thread Talk' on October 5

 Above is my most recent post on Facebook, promoting a 10-minute "Thread Talk" I'll be giving during Spinning and Weaving Week...