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 Dyeing Discussion
 Natural Dyes
 onion skins!?!
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Igel
New Pal

USA
16 Posts

Posted - 03/18/2005 :  06:23:08 AM  Show Profile Send Igel a Private Message
Helllllo,

Anyone out there? Appparently this is not a poplular area as there are almost no posts!

Anyway, my name is Sara and I'm a knitter-spinner-dyer. I use mostly acid dyes to wool, procion for cotton, etc, and have taken a natural dye course where I also learned quite a bit.

My Question is, has anyone used onion skins to dye before? I've been saving them for over a year since they take forever to weigh up to anything. What I'm wondering is, has anyone used more of the onino than just the crisp outer layer that peels off easily OR also used the next outer layer that's more thick getting closer to the onion smell. It would save time to use it as well, assuming it still works and doesn't smell horrid.

On a side note, have any of you onion skin savers been at the cash register when the skni comes off and the person working there is about to throw it out and you go, "Wait! I'll take that" and they give a look such none can describe....

I'm planning a dye garden this spring, so anyone who's interested can check in later.

Cheers,
Sara in MA

Atavistic
Permanent Resident

6604 Posts

Posted - 03/18/2005 :  06:39:06 AM  Show Profile  Visit Atavistic's Homepage Send Atavistic a Private Message
Yes, I have.

First, I just went to the grocery store and dug around in the bins and filled one of the plastic produce bags with purple onion skins that had fallen off already. Once the cashier realized there wasn't even an onion in there, she didn't charge me. The produce guy looked at me strangely and I just told him what I was doing and he thought I was brilliant. Why yes, I am, how kind of you to notice...

I stuck the skins in some cheesecloth, brought water to a boil, and soaked it overnight. It came out a lovely dark rusty shade.

I've also used copper pennies and ammonia. You mix pennies (pre-1982) and ammonia with a little water, dump the wool in it, stir daily and let sit, covered. Outside, preferably, because it smells of urine. You can get shades from a cupric green-blue to a dark grey to almost black. Very nice.

I haven't done anything with any of these dyed hanks yet, but the two actually looked nice next to each other, and I might do a stranded hat.

Amanda



“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches." Ray Bradbury
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shaggy
Permanent Resident

USA
4126 Posts

Posted - 03/18/2005 :  06:49:50 AM  Show Profile Send shaggy a Private Message
yes, I have used the skins from the white or yellow onions

you just want the outer layers they peel or fall off very easy

you will get a yellow (tea color) it really varies on the color you will get because of how much you will use
you do need a lot
I used vinegar as my mordant

[img]http://www.planetsmilies.com/smilies/animal/1/animal60.gif[/img][img]http://www.planetsmilies.com/smilies/animal/1/animal60.gif[/img][img]http://www.planetsmilies.com/smilies/animal/1/animal60.gif[/img] [img]http://www.planetsmilies.com/smilies/love/1/love62.gif[/img]

shaggy

Every day a peddler pulled his cart of wool from his home to the village market. It was a long trip. He had to travel around the perimeter of a large lake that was owned by the town tycoon, a modernday scrooge. One day during the winter the lake froze over. The peddler realized that he could cut off 2 miles from his trip if he crossed over the lake. He was spotted halfway across the lake by the tycoon. Scrooge came racing out of his mansion and screamed at the peddler, "I’ll be danged if I let anyone pull the wool over my ice!"
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Lanea
Permanent Resident

USA
5189 Posts

Posted - 03/18/2005 :  07:32:19 AM  Show Profile  Visit Lanea's Homepage Send Lanea a Private Message
I've used yellow onion skins too--it was one of my first dying projects. I was about 12. It smelled lovely, because I used more than just the outer paper (beause 12 year olds are very patient). And then I was barred from dying with onion skins unless it was warm enough for the windows to be open. I love Amanda's idea about raiding the onion bin at the grocery store for dye-fodder--keep it out of the landfills, neaten up the store, get free dyestuffs--that's a win-win situation.

FWIW, I'm planning on constructing a bit of a dyer's garden this year. I have the plot marked out and I'm getting ready to order plants. I'm not all that much more patient now than I was when I was 12, so I prefer to dye with herbacious dyes--the harvesting takes minutes rather than ages.

http://crazylaneas.blogspot.com/
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Crey
Seriously Hooked

827 Posts

Posted - 03/18/2005 :  07:39:29 AM  Show Profile Send Crey a Private Message
I have used onion skins also - I want to try to use them for some linen that someone spun for me - I'm not sure what to use as a mordant. I've also used butternuts (we have some big trees near us) and walnut hulls. I'm pretty new to dyeing but looking to learn a lot in the coming years - Crey

"Water that is too pure has no fish." -Ts'ai Ken T'an
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mokey
Permanent Resident

15375 Posts

Posted - 03/18/2005 :  09:10:28 AM  Show Profile Send mokey a Private Message
I use them for colouring Easter eggs.

"I firmly believe the Bible is the misinterpreted word of God." Mokey

www.femiknits.blog-city.com
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Igel
New Pal

USA
16 Posts

Posted - 03/18/2005 :  11:08:46 AM  Show Profile Send Igel a Private Message
Thanks guys!

Glad to know others have had encounters in the produce section. I know a guy who manages a health food store, so he keeps regular bags for me.

My favorite natural dyes are marigolds just because they're so easy to grow and harvest. The colors range from deep reds to golden or pale orange and there's something about them that reminds me of my childhood.

Black walnuts are great freebies if you can find a tree in a public place or a friends lawn.
Good luck with the gardens!

Love the pennies idea. I've heard that some seashells can give some great colors, and birch bark , so long as you harvest pieces that have already fallen from the tree and will not damage it.

Crey, if you don't have the Wild Color book , go and get it!

Thanks again,
Sara
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Crey
Seriously Hooked

827 Posts

Posted - 03/18/2005 :  5:04:16 PM  Show Profile Send Crey a Private Message
Oh Sara - I don't know that one - she says running off to the bookstore where they keep a chair with her name on it!! - Crey

"Water that is too pure has no fish." -Ts'ai Ken T'an
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Knittin Kitten
Chatty Knitter

134 Posts

Posted - 03/18/2005 :  7:54:24 PM  Show Profile  Visit Knittin Kitten's Homepage Send Knittin Kitten a Private Message
Sara ~

Is that the complete name of the book? I did a search online and couldn't find anything with that name.

Thanks, Lynne

[IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v161/LynneNY/catinbag.gif[/IMG] [IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v161/LynneNY/Lynnebutton5.jpg[/IMG]
http://www.livejournal.com/users/lynneny/
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Igel
New Pal

USA
16 Posts

Posted - 03/18/2005 :  9:36:28 PM  Show Profile Send Igel a Private Message
Yes it is:

Wild Color by Jenny Dean. I'm sure they have it on amazon, or the woolery.com has it I think. Amazon is of course great because you can get a deal with another book if it's also one you want.

This is THE book as far as I'm concerned.

Sara
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Crey
Seriously Hooked

827 Posts

Posted - 03/31/2005 :  12:19:11 PM  Show Profile Send Crey a Private Message
Oh yes - I got the book - Wild Color - and you are right! It is worth every cent - I have been reading it non-stop since it arrived yesterday and am now planning the dye garden - I love the parts on making your own mordants - can't wait to try - Thanks you so much for telling me about this fabulous book! - Crey

"Water that is too pure has no fish." -Ts'ai Ken T'an
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lemons
Permanent Resident

1692 Posts

Posted - 04/04/2005 :  09:06:09 AM  Show Profile Send lemons a Private Message
I can remember my late ex-MIL dyeing eggs with onion skins, but she wrapped each egg in the skins - held them on with string or rubber bands, I suppose. The effect was dazzling, almost marbled. She also rubbed them with vegetable oil after they were dry, which made the colors deeper.

lemons of missouri
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Maia
New Pal

United Kingdom
47 Posts

Posted - 04/22/2005 :  11:58:23 PM  Show Profile Send Maia a Private Message
When I was little I used to do that too! At Easter, on the hill near our house, we used to have an egg-rolling competition (first to the bottom got the most chocolate I think). We'd each hardboil an egg and then dye them. Onion-skins were definitely the best, wrapped on with rubber bands as you said Lemons. Beetroot also works quite well although is less reliable and doesn't make such pretty patterns. You can also use tea, but again they come out quite plain and just brown.
I have a very old 'Handbook of Country Crafts' which has a list of natural dyes - in the illustrations the dyed yarn looks beautiful. They are:
Apple or Ash Bark, mordant: alum - yellows and olives
Bilberries, no mordant - slate blue
Birch bark, mordant: alum - fawns; mordant: iron - purple
Blackberries, mordant: alum and salt - slate blue
Bracken buds, mordant: alum - yellowish green
Elder leaves, mordant: alum - yellowish green; alum plus salt - blue
Elder bark, mordant: iron - black
Golden rod, mordant: chrome, plus cream of tartar - golden yellow
Lichen (Black Crottle), no mordant - rust, orange, brown, copper
Ling (Heather), mordant: alum - yellow
Privet leaves, mordant: alum - yellow
Walnuts, no mordant - dark brown and black.
I have all the proportions and timings as well but I don't know if I'm allowed to post these for copyright reasons? (PM me if you haven any other questions...)
I've never tried any of these but really hope to when I've finished my exams! I have spent many years collecting the little bits of sheeps wool that collect on barbed wire when they scratch themselves; it's herdwick wool so very rough and scratchy but I think would felt nicely.
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jbug
Chatty Knitter

234 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2005 :  06:50:19 AM  Show Profile Send jbug a Private Message
I am having flashbacks of when I dyed wool for Rug Hooking, quite a few years ago. I couldn't believe how fun it was to see the beautiful white wool soking up the color from the onion skins. I used the brown outer skins. Dyeing like that using wool is oddly satisfying, but can get messy, yep.
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