onion-skin natural dyeing

Inspired by January's pages of Fran's calendar, Plant Dyes for All Seasons, I fetched out the bag of onion skins I've been collecting for years.

I have tried in the past, with limited success and I guess the bag of skins grew and grew because I wasn't keen to try again. (I remember a horrible bright yellow colour).

The calendar says that this dye is 'substantive' which means that you don't need a mordant to stick the dye to the fibres. But if the mordant makes the dye faster (fade more slowly) then I reckoned it was worthwhile,  so I soaked my wool in alum overnight. I'm not sure what the wool is. I think this is yarn I spun during last year's Spinzilla (or possibly the year before) and it's probably Shetland combed top.

After boiling my first batch of skins (you're not supposed to boil dyestuff generally, but Fran has noted somewhere that she achieved a nice deep colour after boiling some onion skins) I was amazed at the deep reddish-brown. But disappointed at the result. The yarn looked yukky-brown, and even less pleasant after rinsing.

I had loads of skins and so made a few more batches of the dye and dipped the yarn again and again, trying to deepen the colour. It did work, to some extent, but not the deep reddish brown I'd hoped for. The yarn looks pretty dark in this picture, but much colour rinsed out and by the time it was dry, I had more of a caramel colour.

It's a nice colour, maybe with a hint of the 'turmeric yellow' about it in places, but generally very tasteful.

Finished project, handspun socks

This is a very long-term project, partly because I've been putting this aside in favour of other projects, and partly because I knitted three socks in order to get a pair.
The first sock I finished was way too long in the foot (you have to start the heel a long while before you'd think) and too long in the leg (I don't like them too short). I'd then used more than half the yarn!

So after pulling out most of that first sock, then carefully halving my yarn, off we went again.

It's a great pattern, Coralicious Socks, I really enjoyed knitting it (luckily). It's toe-up, my favourite way, I love the lace pattern and the 'flap/gusset' heel has this slip-stitch pattern at the back.

I spun the yarn by spindle (which I always love doing, it's therapeutic, and produces really good yarn). It's a luxury blend from picperfic's club, colourway Monet's Pond. There's more variation in the colour than there looks in the pictures.

You can see that there's quite a chunk of lighter colour in the leg of one sock. I think this must have been before I started 'fractal spinning' or splitting the two plies differently to better mix up the colours in the plying.