Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dyeing with onion skins in Ireland

The other day I finally boiled up my two months worth of red onion skins. What a delight I found! I've done this a few times back home in Maine using alum. I have loved the brilliant almost blinding yellow I get. However, this time, it was different. 

The dye bath to begin with was a peach orange color. I thought, Cool!! Wow! What's going on? Then projects started to materialize in my head for this color. I strained the onion skins off by pouring the bath into a plastic tube with a colander inside the tube so to save the skins. The bath was so dark! I poured my onion skin free bath back into the pot, added a few crystals of alum. I should note, even though this was alum, it was a different form than I used at home which was powered or granular- like white sugar. I thought, no bother, it's all the same. I added my first skein of pre soaked yarn. I was careful to match the water temps so the yarn wouldn't get a shock. 

A few weeks back when we had traveled to Co. Donegal, I had bought four balls of pure kid mohair from Studio Donegal. The yarn is from the Breezemount Farm in Donaghadee, Co. Down. Looooooove this yarn. Soooooo much:)!  I skeined all four balls for dyeing. In the first skein went. After the dye bath heated up again, it went a dark hunter green. I let it simmer for a bit. About half an hour and then pulled it out afraid that it got too dark. I rinsed my yarn a lot letting the excess color run out. It hurt a little to see all that color leave the yarn but I knew it was the right thing to do as it was only sitting on top of the yarn. After several rinses it remained a lovely soft silvery sage to light pea green. I'm very pleased with it. 

I had those lovely onion skins still remaining with out mordant in them so I created a 2nd dye bath. Pre soaked more yarn, let the onions boil again, then I strained off the skins again. Put in a 2nd skein and watched it cook and heat up also letting the temp gradually climb as to not damage the wool. The color with out the mordant was a sort of maple brown, really did not want brown so I added one crystal. The color changed to a lovely golden color. After this yarn soaked and cooked a while, I took it out and added a 3rd skein letting it do the same. This time because the alum was already added in the bath, the yarn introduced to it became a slightly more greener version of the golden. Dare I call it chartreuse? 


Over all I am so pleased with this lot of dyed yarn. The colors are interesting. The yarn feels the same as before it was dyed. And through the process I added new techniques that in the end added to the quality of the yarn. 

Last night I came across a lace pattern in my super stitches book that I may use with all this yarn. A lace shawl perhaps??? That I design on my own?! I think it's time I try. 

1 comment:

Rachel Jones said...

So rich and beautiful! I can't wait to see how these skeins knit up together!