"Winter Dye" - Originally Posted on 4-6-2014
To keep an accurate archive of our work after changing sites, this post has been copied from our original post at sewdowngoods.com from April 6, 2014. To find the original blog, click here.
Naturally-dying fabric in the winter is challenging. (Wait, shouldn’t winter be over by now??) Our dye garden hasn’t yet sprouted, and foraging is limited. We turned to our compost for some ideas.
Thankfully, due to our love of cooking, we go through a lot of onions. I mean A LOT. Too bad A LOT of onions still isn’t enough to dye yards of fabric. Our friend Dave Dietz, a local organic farmer, saved some skins for us, and we added those to our onion skin stash. We were able dye about 5 pounds of various materials, using both red and yellow onion skins.
I actually used cold mordanting for this batch- it seems to have worked better than the warm mordanting for the larger piece fabrics, and much less time involved!
I had an old indigo vat going too, so I overdyed the left onion skein with indigo. Left to right- indigo overdyed yellow onion wool, red onion with no mordant on wool, red onion with alum mordant on wool, red onion with alum mordant on cotton-linen blend, yellow onion with alum mordant on wool, 2 yards heavyweight organic linen, tannin-alum-alum mordant with yellow onion, and then the napkins are all organic linen. Top to bottom- red onion no mordant, yellow onion overdyed with red onion alum mordant, yellow onion no mordant, red onion iron mordant, red onion alum mordant, yellow onion overdyed with indigo alum mordant and iron mordant.
I also decided to reduce the rest of the 5 gallons of red onion bath down to a single jar by simmering for a couple of hours. This way, I'll have a concentrate that I can either reduce down further to block print, or we can reconstitute it in another 4 gallons of water to use at a later date.