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!

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