November 6, 2008

A Day for Dyeing

Posted in Journal, Purls of Wisdom tagged , , , at 11:51 pm by Jenn

Today I finally decided to do something with all those onion skins I’d been saving for the past few months.  I don’t know if it was because Scott said something (sarcastically) about them accumulating or if I was just ready to do something with them.  Anyway, about 3pm today I decided today was the day that I would try my luck at dyeing with natural dyes.

I started off with this


but in much large quantity.  I put all the skins I gathered into a pot with about 2.5 liters of water and turned the heat on to medium high.  I let the water come to a boil and remain boiling for about 30 minutes. 


I then turned the heat down and got ready to add the yarn.


I let that simmer gently (so it wouldn’t felt) for about 30 minutes….this is the finished product.  I’m really quite pleased with the color.

I still had 2 skeins ready to go, but I didn’t think there was enough color left in the water to do up another 2 skeins.  I didn’t want to risk it so I reached in to the freezer and pulled out a pack of spinach.  The spinach left little flakes of spinach all over the yarn so I didnt’ want to dye the third skein with that color…so I grabbed the Black Cherry Kool Aid (3 packs to 4 cups of water).  What the Hell!  Here’s a picture of all three skeins.


I really love the onion dyed skein which is in the middle.  It’s a nice autumn orange color.  The spinach is on the left and the Black Cherry Kool Aid on the right.  I like the spinach color but once I saw the Black Cherry I thought about adding another color to the spinach….hmmm….what goes good with green?  Purple of course.  I boiled up some Grape Kool Aid (2 packs to 2 cups of water) and this is what I came up with


much better. 

The method I used for the Kool Aid this time was different than last time.  Last time I hand painted the yarn, this time I just stuck it in the pot of water.  The yarn soaked up the color instantly.  That is why the Black Cherry yarn is lighter in places….the light places are the last pieces that went in to the water.  When I took the yarn out (after about 20 minutes) the water was clear.  For the spinach yarn I just dipped the yarn in and held it in place for about 5 minutes….again all the color was removed from the water and drawn in to the yarn.  FASCINATING.  Like magic.

Now all the yarn is drying and I have to decide what to do with it.  Gifts or stash?  That is the question.

I also received two GREAT packages today.  One from my friend Katie in Kentucky!  She is so sweet.  She was my spoilee for the Spring Swap several months ago.  We’ve stayed in touch and she sent me two Webkinz and two skeins of Noro Silk Garden in super awesome colorway.  I’m thinking scarf, but she suggested mittens.  Here’s a picture of the goods


Thanks Katie, YOU ROCK!  The second package was from WEBS and contained the yarn (Queensland Collection – Kathmandu DK in Midnight Blue Tweed)for my next project…Baby Cables and Big Ones Too (on ravelry)!  I’m going to swatch tomorrow and hopefully cast on in the next few days.  I do still have 3 Giftmas presents to start and finish….


  1. preita said,

    how much onion skins did you use? I’ve tried looking everywhere but haven’t been able to find a good refrence for this.

  2. Heather said,

    Wow – the dyeing looks like a great afternoon! I have been wanting to do the onion skin thing, but where the heck do you store leftover onionskins in this house??? Maybe this summer!


  3. sjsmart said,

    I’m really not sure total weight of the onion skins, but for one skein if you have a quart size jar full (kind of stuffed in there) that should be a good amount. I actually had a sandwich bag crammed full and then a small one cup sized tupperware crammed full – i think it was enough to fill a quart size jar. Next time I do it I’m just going to save them in a jar (lid off so they will dry). I will probably also reduce the water to 2 liters…maybe less since only doing one skein.

    Heather – I think if you put them in to a quart size jar and keep them on top of the fridge or cabinets that it will be out of the way and able to dry. When the jar is full you will be ready to rock and roll.

  4. Katie said,

    YAY! I’m so glad the package arrived safely! I think a scarf would be lovely!!

    I never knew you could dye yarn with onion skins…. that’s really cool. Did you spin the yarn yourself, or did you buy undyed yarn? I want to try it… looks so cool!!!

  5. sjsmart said,

    I bought the undyed sockyarn from Cherry Tree Hill. I also have some from Knit Picks that I’m going to be trying out soon. It was a lot of fun. You should give it a try!

  6. wineymomma said,

    very pretty! did you know you can use the same onion skin dye o do easter eggs too?!?

  7. sjsmart said,

    In Belarus I learned about the easter egg thing. I haven’t tried it yet though. I like too many other colors. I do think it’s neat though. I’ve seen some and they have really unusual patterns on them from the fibers in the skins.

  8. Nadine said,

    So crafty!!

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