Red Onions to dye……..

So you might remember that I blogged about dyeing with the skins of white onions back in February; they have the gold/yellow papery skins. I had added a copper mordant to the dye pot at the end in an attempt to create a deeper, richer colour. The photo below shows the result from then.
The yellow colour was from dyeing the wool for one hour in an onion dye stuff; the deeper brown colour was created after adding the copper mordant.

1-DSCF2979After posting it, a reader commented that if I had used red onion skins, I would have gotten the same results. Nothing like a bit of experimentation……..

I tried to keep the red onion dye prep as close to the original. I used the same method I had used for the plain onion skins. I use one third the weight of the wool in skins; 33g of skins per 100g of wool. I also used the same wool type and water source.
I boiled the skins in rain water to get the dye stuff.

1-DSCF3357After simmering for an hour, I drained the water off the skins and used this as my dye.
When I added the wool I got


1-DSCF3364I have to say that it looked quite promising. After simmering for an hour I got the following results.1-DSCF3378 1-DSCF34001-DSCF3382They are really lovely colours. The question was did the red onions give the same colour as the plain onions with a copper mordant?

To me the answer has to be no; at least not in this case. The copper mordant seemed to have dyed the wool a deeper shade of brown, whereas the red onion skins gave a deeper gold yellow. But to be honest, both dyeing attempts gave beautiful colours…. Now to start saving skins all over again…….

4 thoughts on “Red Onions to dye……..”

    1. I agree with your comment about the variations, and also copper is a very unpredictable mordant.
      However we treated both dyeings as experiments; we weighed the wool and red onion skins for both experiments, and replicated pretty well the dyeing conditions, as we were keen to see if it would be possible to reproduce the colours time and time again (which we managed to do) Therefore I have to say that copper & onions would give a brown/orange colour whereas the red onions provided a deep gold – believe me when I say there is as massive difference between the two results.
      Thanks for the feed back though – always appreciated 🙂

  1. Hi

    Last week I made a red onion skin dye, and the Wensleydale fleece turned out a pinky coppery colour but silk came out a clear dusty pink and linen a proper pink like a flower! I used citric acid to soak fibres and cook skins. It has spun into a lumpy (art yarn!) single which is very pretty.

    Kind regards


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