What to do with Your Onion Skins When You are Bored

The boys and I have been looking at life in the colonial days to get ready for a trip we have planned to Colonial Williamsburg in a couple of weeks.  We’ve talked about how hard life was and how people could not just go to the store to buy stuff like we do now.  They had to make everything they needed or make extra so they could barter for what they needed.

Personally, I love the bartering way of life.  If I could go cash free, I would do it.   For example, if anyone would be willing to babysit the boys, I would happily give you a jar of jam or 5 or I might even make you some cookies or dinner if you really wanted to be healthy about it.

Anyway, I was talking Colonial Times.  I got this book called American Kids in History: Colonial Days.  It follows a make believe colonial family through a year of their lives–kinda like Little House in the Big Woods, only with more instructions and a less interesting story.  It has loads of craft and activity ideas.

So far, we’ve done two.  First, we made weather vanes.  It was fun.  They’re a nice table accent.

Then, we dyed yarn using onion skins.

Yes, really, you can do this and it’s a really simple and kinda magical process.

First, you have the kids peel a bunch of onions.  Then you throw them in a pot of water.  We used about 9 onions or 120g of skins.

Then you boil it for an hour or so.  I also added about 1/2 Tablespoon of turmeric.

Meanwhile, soak your skeins of yarn in some room temperature water.

I used some leftover white Patons wool yarn that I had lying around.  You can use cotton as well or whatever you have.

After the skins have boiled, strain the onion skins out and return the dye bath to its pot.  Let it cool to just warm.

Add the yarn.   The yarn changes color instantly–like magic!  Bring to a low simmer and simmer for about an hour.

Let cool in pot overnight.  The next morning, drain the dye liquid and rinse the yarn under cool water until the water is clear.

Roll the yarn in a beach towel and walk on it.  The kids love this part.  Take the yarn out and hang it up to dry.  We put ours on our bannister and aimed a fan at it.

Aren’t they pretty?

Interestingly, the skein on top went into the dye bath first and is more orange.  The bottom is more yellow.

Cool, huh?  And easy, too.  The next time you have a load of onion skins, you can try it too.  I hear that red onions give a slightly different color.  I may have to try it sometime.

What are we going to do with the yarn?  Well, stick around a little while and you might find out.

btw, I used this method instead of the one in the book since it didn’t call for any ingredients I did not have.  Except, I forgot to salt the yarn.  Yeah, it’s pretty bland tasting.


Posted on September 6, 2011, in Family Fun, Homeschool and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. But what does it SMELL like?

  2. oh, this looks super fun! now i need to eat more onions. heh.

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