Grackle & Sun

Archive for the tag “red onion”

Eggs and Kitchen Dyes

I recently taught a class where I work: how to naturally dye eggs.  Fun was had. And it made me long for wool. :D

naturally dyed eggs

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naturally dyed eggs 3

naturally dyed eggs 2

Have fun celebrating Spring in whatever way floats your boat.  I am off to eat delicious Puerto Rican food with my family.

Live happy, dye happy!

 

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At the Burrow DyeTable # Five: Red Onion Revisited

After seeing the awesome green that my class got from the red onion skin dyebath the other day, I didn’t have the heart to chuck out the exhaust.  I knew that most likely my results from the same bath, which had been sitting on the back porch for 3 days, would be quite different, but I had yarn already mordanted practically screaming at me to go play.  So, play I did.  Husband kept me company, which made the whole thing infinitely more enjoyable, and I really like dyeing, so this was pretty damn good.

And, in the middle of it all, we heard a loud noise, looked up in the sky, and saw this behemoth flying low, low, low overhead.  Unexpected, right?  It had propellers.

Alright.  Back to work.

Dye Notes:

Dyestuff:  Red onions

Parts used:  The papery outer skins

Source:  The restaurant where I work, my kitchen, and grocery store onion bins

Ratio of dyestuff to yarn:  The original dyebath was roughly a .75:1 ratio of skins to yarn.  If I were to go strictly by weight for this exhaust bath, it would be about 200g onion skins to roughly 36g yarn, which is a just about a 5.6:1 ratio.  However, since this is an exhaust bath, and I have no idea how one would even begin to calculate how much dye has already been removed from the skins, the weight of said skins is very nearly meaningless.  I wish there was some way to figure it out, but it is beyond my arithmetical skillz, of which there are few.

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

Dyebath:  Added just a little glug of white distilled vinegar before heating, thinking that lowering the pH might help me get the pinks that red onion are supposed to give in a more acidic bath.  The pH at room temp. was 3.6.  Once the bath came up to temperature (195F), I remeasured the pH to be 3.4.  Initially, when the yarn was added (at room temp.), it seemed to take in the claret colour.  But as soon as the bath started heating up, it became clear that it was going to turn toward yellow.  Eeeeeenteresting….  Held the dyebath between 175F-195F for 1 hour and then let the yarn cool in the pot for several hours.

The results?  A weird burnished golden green.  Here it is straight from the dyebath:

And here is the skein after being rinsed and dried.  That is NOT pink.

It’s hard to describe just what this colour is.  The picture doesn’t capture just how much of a strange, otherworldly green cast it has.  The best way to describe it would be to call it… tarnished.  I rather like it.  But it is not what I was expecting.

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Then later the same day another little hank of premordanted yarn called to me, and I decided to bump up the pH dyebath and try it one more time.  It still seemed to have so much colour in it.  So I added enough washing soda to get the pH up to 9.4 at temperature.  The colour of the bath immediately went from red to green.

In the original dyebath, after we got the pH over 9, we saw the same colour shift of the bath, but then it turned acidic (and red) again pretty quickly.  I assumed this was because I’d left the bag of onion skins in the bath and that they were still influencing the pH.  So this time, I took the bag out before bumping up the pH. I did, however, add a few fresh red onion skins I’d snagged from the restaurant this week.  No more than a couple grams.

But it didn’t make any difference.  Even though the bath stayed green for the hour that I heated it (in the same 175-195F window). after it was left to cool overnight, the next morning it was claret red again.

The results?  Not green.  Or pink.

So what was going on here?  I must begin with the disclaimer that I have no idea.  But if I were to guess, it would be that there are a couple different components to whatever compounds are in red onion skins that make them red, and that the uptake of those components occur at different times.  It is my understanding that if you take red onion skins and make a fresh dyebath with them, and leave the bath acidic, you can get pinks on your fiber.  If you take that same fresh dyebath and make it basic instead, you will get greens on your yarn—even though the bath looks red.   And that is exactly what happened with the original bath.   The kids got green yarn.  Very green.  Clearly, in the first exhaust bath, the green dye was all but gone.  In the second bath there was none left—even though the bath was alkaline.   So, I would venture to say that making the bath alkaline is what extracts the component that dyes green, and that it is taken up before the other components that dye either pink or yellow.  I would like to try red onion again and get pink from it, because I think this would help clarify what is happening chemically in this bath.  I’m really just guessing about all of it at this point.

Any of you have experience dyeing with red onion skins?  What do you think?

Live happy, dye happy!

At the Burrow Dyetable # 3: Children’s Class

Just finished teaching a children’s coop class on natural dyeing for my local homeschooling coop group. The kids were great, the timing went perfectly, and the dyepots were awesome.  In all, it was four hours of fun work. I am very pleased, and more importantly, I think the kids had a blast.

The Prep:

I pre-scoured, weighed and divvied, and pre-mordanted (8% alum/7% CoT) all the yarn, so we were able to jump right in.   Each child (and a couple parents) got a 20g mini-skein of yarn for each dyebath.  There were 9 participants and 4 dyebaths.  It was a lot of divvying and weighing and winding.  I did it in my pajamas in the wee hours.  Good times.

The Class:

We began with an introduction to natural dyeing:  types of fiber, dyestuffs, terms, safety, and a show-and-tell with fiber, dyestuff, and dyed samples.  I even made posters with illustrations and everything.  I love teaching.  I wish I had more time to do classes like this.

We dyed with black tea (English Breakfast, 20 bags), yellow onion skins (.75:1), red onion skins (just under 1:1), and I sent them home with a bonus black beans solar dyeing project. They had fun stuffing pantyhose legs with onion skins and weighing and calculating the ratios. They really liked getting to wear the blue gloves and using the Grackle & Sun super-scientifical gear—you know, the pH meter and temperature probe. Who wouldn’t? Lol. The real winner, though, was the awesome presto-change-oh! trick with the red onion skins. The magic of a little washing soda. Red dyebath, green yarn.  Show-stopper. :D

Quick scientifical aside here:  My tapwater is pH 8.8.  The black tea dyebath dropped to a 3.4.  The yellow onion bath went down to about a 4.1.  The red onion bath was made more basic with 1/4 teaspoon of washing soda which brought the pH up to 9.4, and that instantly turned the extraction green.  But later (after about 45 min.), the dyebath was claret coloured again.  So we remeasured the pH, and it was 3.5!  But the yarn still took the green colour.  Interesting that it dropped back down though.  Will have to play with this again later.  All the dyebaths were done as a combo extraction/dyebath deal.  The yarn and dyestuff was added at the same time.

In the down time, we took a tour of my yard and learned about various native dyeplants and their proper names. We also took a tour of the Grackle & Sun DyeTable (aka, my studio space in the garage). They called it my dyer’s lair. Funny.  And true. They loved all the different extractions and experiments going on.  I love to see the inner mad scientists of 10 year olds being engaged and encouraged.

The best part was seeing how excited they got about their successful dyepots. Mad skillz little dyers. I think a couple of them are hooked. They’re already asking for more classes and planning what dyestuffs they want to try out next. Total success. :D

The results:

Sorry for the over-exposed picture. I didn’t dye any yarn myself today, and so I tried to snap a quick picture before the kiddos had to go.  The green is actually greener, and the peach is actually browner. The yellow is pretty bang-on, though. I didn’t tell them what colour they’re going to get with the black beans though. I can just imagine the surprise when they see blue yarn. Good times. Love sharing this awesomeness we call natural dyeing.

Yellow Onion—Red Onion—Black Tea

Live happy, dye happy!

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