Last month, I picked up some un-dyed yarn at Green Mountain Spinnery's Tent Sale. Since then I've been saving onion skins to make a dye. I read about mordants, but didn't have any on hand and decided to just go ahead and jump in. However, I wasn't content to just try one thing. I knew onion skins would created a reddish brown color and I wanted a bright yellow. So I decided to try turmeric too. I was planning on just experimenting with one skein of fingerling weight yarn that is for Christmas ornaments, but once I got the dye baths going I decided to go ahead and dye the worsted weight yarn too. I split the fingerling weight yarn into two smaller skeins so I could get some in each color. I tied all the skeins in four places to keep them secure. The larger skeins of worsted wool were doubled up so that they would fit in the pan.
For the onion skin dye, I filled the pan with onion skins and then covered them with water. I simmered for about 45 minutes. After removing the onion skins, the dye bath was this lovely color. I added a dash of salt and a dash of vinegar because I saw people used both on other sites.
For the turmeric dye, I filled the pan with water and added three tablespoons of turmeric. I wanted a strong yellow color. I simmered the bath for about 30 minutes and added a dash of vinegar too.
I soaked the yarn in warm water before adding it to the dye baths. The yarn in the onion bath simmered for about 45 minutes. The yarn in the turmeric bath took only about 10 minutes. It was at this point I decided that the worsted skeins would be yellow. Only one skein would fit in at a time and it would be a lot faster in the turmeric dye. I was very happy with the color in the first few skeins.
However, by the time I got to the fourth and fifth skeins the potency of the dye was waning and instead of the vibrant yellow I started with, I had a paler shade. You can see them here on the drying rack.
I ran out to the local store for more turmeric and cooked up another batch. I forgot the vinegar, and the first re-dyed skein came out rather orange. I was more careful with the other skeins, and to even out the color, I dipped parts of all the other skeins onto the more orange bath. I'll have to alternate skeins ever few rows when I use this yarn for a project. Here's the finished range of yellow worsted weight skeins on the drying rack. Overall its a good set of color.
Here is the fingerling weight yarn: dyed with tumeric
and dyed with onion skins.
I'm very pleased with my first experiment with dying yarn. Now I'm waiting for the yarn to dry and am curious how long it will take before my fingernails loose the yellow color.