Solar Dyeing Experiment, Part Two

The solar dyeing experiment was not exactly an unmitigated success but  won’t get filed into the utter failure category either.

The yarn continued to color over the course of the 8 days it sat on the porch. I could tell the yarn with the marigold’s were changing much more than the onion skin yarn. On July 8th, I decided the yarn was probably going to do all it was going to do.


It didn’t look like the colors were continuing to change in the water… but based on research I’ve done since concluding this first solar dyeing experience, I’ve learned that I may have been wrong. Next time I may let the yarn sit and dye longer.

When I opened the jars I discovered there was some mold growing on top of the pantyhose that had been cut up and re-purposed as plant material holders. I think the issue is that my jars turned out not to be completely airtight and there was a little bit of room at the top of the jars. I’ve been reading up on solar dyeing, and it seems like that may be one of my problems. But I guess that’s also one of the reasons you wear gloves while dyeing yarn and then why all the instructions I found talked about how you must was the dyed yarn.

To rinse the yarn, I put the skeins one at a time in the bathtub and gently washed them with baby shampoo (baby shampoo is endlessly useful in my house – yarn washing, softening finished knits when wet blocking, washing the dog…). The yarn dyed with onion skins really didn’t dye much and it didn’t get the colors I was hoping for at all. That yarn has been set aside and I’m not sure what I’ll do next. I think I”m going try dyeing that yarn again.

The marigold yarn dyed a vibrant variegated yellow. It’s got some good shades of very pale to very lemony yellow. I’m not a big yellow person because it doesn’t look good with my skin tone but I’m really pleased with how the yarn came out. The picture below shows the range of colors, but isn’t quite as yellow as the yarn is in real life.


The yellow is a worsted weight yarn that has about 250 yards to the hank so I have enough to knit a small accessory. I wound the yarn into a ball, but haven’t started working with it yet. I think I’m going to do a small cowl with the yarn.

As for the onion yarn , it’s clean and sitting in its hank waiting for the opportunity to shine. The Baltimore weather this year has been amazing so our garden has been absolutely prolific. I’m going to do a little more research over the next couple of days and I think there’s enough summer weather left in the season that I can run a second solar dyeing experiment.

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