I've been meaning to do this for a while but I was always a bit scared, not sure of proportions and the rest. I read words like alum and creme of tartar...and froze not knowing precisely what that was (and couldn't figure out the proper translation to my mother language, spanish). So, while I was waiting to figure it out (hopefully in a workshop soon); last week I had to dye Eastern eggs. My husband said he was the expert and since we don't have the "egg hunt" in Argentina, little I knew about this whole egg situation. But then, when he was dyeing them with onion skins I thought...hmmm...this could work with wool as well... and grabbed some regular merino and threw it in the pot ...not with the eggs, don't worry. So, for those interested... keeping in mind I am an amateur experimenting and I didn't have an especific recipe but more of an informed guess (read a lot, mixed it all up).
First you have to make your dye... you can experiment with a lot of things. I'll use the golden onion skins as an example (I suppose one can use red onions too and achieve another color).
You use only the golden outter layers. Peel them off -about 5 onions- and then add them to a pot with water and about 5-10grms of salt/2 tablespoons.The salt helps fixate the dye to the yarn, wool, fabric, etc. Take that to a boil and then cook it for about 25minutes. Then strain it (the onion skins you can throw away).
In the meantine, pre soak what you will dye -wool in my case- in water and normal vinegar. Measurements? eeerrrm... a couple of glugs... nothing scientific here. For what I understand the vinegar helps the wool prepare and take the dye better. Let it soak while the dye is cooking. Rinse.
*If you are going to dye unspun wool (as in the wool you use for felting) try no to move it too much or rubb it because otherwise you will end with felted roving...remember: water, movement and wool are what make felt!
Once the dye was strained and the wool rinsed, gently dip the wool into the dye (*don't stir too much... remember: felt!) and "cook" -with the lid on or your dye will evaporate- for about 30minutes (or when the wool is a bit darker than what you want it to look when it is dry. Remember that with water, colors look brighter!).
When you think you have achieved the right color, take it off the fire, and let it cool. Then remove gently, rinse until you don't see any more color coming out ( I didn't have any!) and let it dry undisturbed!
*One last note for those whom might want to dye unspun wool: don't forget that if you "cook" it for too long, the wool will start felting too... warmth, water and the movement in the pot will make the fibers entangle and a bit stiff.
My other experiments...
-spinach + tumeric: fluorescent green! :)
-carrot + orange peel + 1 spoon of cinamon: a pinkish-orangey... LOL looks likea cake recipe!
- beets: same steps as before...
right: onion skins.
Hope you give it a try and have fun!