Grackle & Sun

Dye Day #1 Results: Yellow Onion Skins

Foolproof.  Easily collected.  Non-toxic.  Beautiful.  Yellow onion skins are a very satisfying dyestuff.    Definitely recommended for beginners—you’d be hardpressed to mess this up.

Dye Notes:

Dyestuff:  Yellow onions

Part used:  Dried outer skins

Source:  My kitchen and the grocery store where I used to work

Yarn:  Knitpicks Bare Superwash mordanted with 8% aluminum potassium sulfate and 7% cream of tartar; Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool unmordanted.

Ratio of dyestuff to fiber:  I’ve seen anywhere from 1:1 to 1: .05 recommended.  However, I used everything I had (and I’d been saving them for years!): 384g of onion skins to 160g of fiber.  So, this means our ratio was over 2:1 dyestuff to fiber.

Extraction method:  We stuffed the onion skins into panty hose and simmered them for 1 hr.

Lid on top to keep the pantyhose bags from floating.

Dyebath:  We left the onion skins in the dyepot, added the fiber and simmered for about another hour.

The results?  Beautiful golden yellows and browns.

Fresh from the dyebath, superwash on the right.

I gave the Fisherman’s Wool a second dunk to darken it, and at the same time, overdyed the birch bark skein:

And for added comparison, here are my friend Kittyraja’s skeins of glory:

Both are mordanted.  The left is superwash.  The white spots are where her yarn was tied a little too tightly.  Lesson learned—making a resist on yarn while dyeing is EASY.

There was one more adventure in onion dyeing on Dye Day #1, but that story will have to wait for later.  Until then,

Live happy, dye happy!

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11 thoughts on “Dye Day #1 Results: Yellow Onion Skins

  1. The resulting colors are wonderful. I like how you show each step in the process so clearly. That first pic of the onion skin is nicely done. Thanks.

    • The whole idea for the blog started because I have a horrible memory. I want to keep a log of the things I do so that I can remember what I did, why it worked or failed. This requires more detailed notes. It makes me happy that others might find this helpful, too. As for the first picture, Husband fixed my camera! Total WIN! So, after I’m done showing the last bit of Dye Day #1, I’ll hopefully have much better pictures to add. Thank you for the kind comments!

  2. I love the onion skin photo too! As well as the rest of the post, of course!

  3. And you can just keep stuffing yarn in there to get yellows… I think I used 0.25:1 for my first batch, then added one skein at a time.

    • Yes! I’ve been collecting more, and next time I’ll use a lower ratio for lighter colours. It’s nice to know that one can get such a range just from the amount of dyestuff used.

  4. This is so cool. I’m loving this whole series!

  5. Pingback: Knit|tinK: A Witch’s House Socks « Grackle & Sun

  6. Hi, could you discuss how you managed to get pinks from onionskins? I’ve never seen that result before.a

    • I have not yet dyed pink with them, but I am amassing a ton of red onion skins with which to do so. Working in a grocery has its advantages, lol. From what I have read, it all depends on pH. Red onion skins are supposed to dye pink or green depending on the pH of the dye solution. I’ve dyed green with them but not yet pink. Will definitely post when I do.

      • I haven’t either. I used them mixed with the yellow skins to get a lively bronze color. I’ll play with dome red skins too and see what happens.

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