It took me several months to collect enough onion skins - I didn't have a precise amount I was aiming for, but I'd read that more is better. We tend to use yellow/brown onions, so those are the skins I saved. I collected them until I was fed up. I didn't weigh them, so I can't say how much I actually had in the end. Just call it a shedload.
To prepare the dye solution, I tried to shove all skins into my too-small pot, let them simmer for about an hour, and then strained the skins out. Boiled onion skins smell pretty terrible, FYI. I was surprised at how red the dye solution was.
I let the solution cool a little while I soaked my yarn. Since I am technically on stash down I couldn't buy any new yarn, so I used some undyed 4-ply alpaca that I had in my stash. Then I put the yarn in the pot and started simmering it again. The picture above shows the colour once I had put my yarn in - the yarn started taking up colour really quickly.
After simmering it for about 45 minutes, I was sick of the boiled onion skin fumes, so I turned it off and let it cool. There was still plenty of colour in the dye bath, though it was a bit lighter than at the beginning. If I was dedicated, I probably could have saved the rest of the dye and used it again on something else. Or maybe I could have used fewer onion skins to begin with.
Picture above is what I ended up with.
Oh hey, it's brown! Surprise, surprise.
When I washed the yarn it lost a bit of colour, but not too much - the water became tinged yellow. It looked much more orange/red when wet, but it dried to be a light orange-y brown. My first thought when I looked at it dry was that it was exactly like my tea-dyed yarn. Upon comparing the two, however, I see that they are quite different.
See my tea-dyed sock with my onion-dyed yarn below. The sock is darker and less red/orange, though it does have reddish undertones that don't come through well in the photo.
|Tea sock with Onion yarn. A Study in Contrasts.|
I didn't follow any particular tutorials to the letter, but here are a few links that helped me figure it all out:
Ways of the Whorl
It's a Stitch Up
Altogether it was a fun experiment. Maybe I'll try red onion skins some time!