To dye with onion skin.

My first attempt at spinning with a drop spindle did not go well. The yarn I created wasn’t useful for anything, not even as a reminder of my first attempt. So I opened up the fibers and carded them again. Then as we were making dinner I remembered something I’d once read: the skin of onions can be used for dyeing.

First I put my wool in a big pot, filled it with water, enough to cover the wool, and white vinegar, at a ratio of 4 parts water, 1 part vinegar. I put the heat on and let it heat up to almost boiling; then turned down the heat, and let it stand there for about an hour, the water holding a temperature of 80 degrees Celsius. 

In a different pot I put the skins of 3 big yellow onions, and apx. 1L of water. I let this boil up, then turned down the heat and simmer for an hour (this too at 80 degrees Celsius. The temperature isn’t that important, but wool will felt if you shock it with a sudden temperature change)

After an hour I drained the vinegar solution from the wool and rinsed it gently once (with the hottest water I could get from the tap). I then drained the water from the onion skins, into the pot with the wool. You can see that the wool caught the color instantly. I put the lid on, moved the pot away from the hot plate and left it overnight. 

Next morning I was so eager to see the result, and it was wonderful. I rinsed the wool gently in a drainer, (again making sure the temperature from the tap was about the same as it had in the pot), several times, until the water ran clear from the wool. I then spread it out on a towel on a drying rack and left it till it was entirely dry, (about 5 hours for me).

I used my trustworthy Louët hand carders to make lovely, light rolags, ready to be spun. The dye did catch on differently at different parts of the wool. I personally like that, and carded the wool of the same shade into separate rolags. That way I get a natural change in my yarn, but if you want a more uniform yarn you could always card everything together.