Who says onions are only good for eating. According to Melissa Polk, owner of Wild Faerie Caps, they are also good for dying fiber and wool, or at least the dried skin of onions are good for this. She uses both yellow and red onions.
I met her at a booth on Golden Acres Ranch, one of the farms participating in the 6th Annual New Leaf Market Cooperative self-driven Farm Tour.
"Dye something with onion skins then go over it with indigo to get dark green," says Polk. She adds that carrot tops work well dying fiber to a light yellow shade.
"If you want something blue. Take a blue flower and pound it on paper. Then you can use it, in any quantity," she says. Her table is covered with twisted bundles of fiber, wool and pieces of knit clothing.
She also uses bark to dye her textiles. "I've used oak bark. You have to use a lot. Simmer it in water and put the fiber in it," Polk says. The down side of using natural dyes is that one dye does not work on all types of materials. What works for wool does not work for cotton or bamboo. And natural dyes fade except for black walnut.
"Black walnuts will dye everything. If you need anything brown, use this natural dye, it's permanent." Polk says picking up a bundle of wool that is a light brown color.
"Someday I will have a dye garden," she says.
She sells her fibers and yarn even though it is not profitable. She says spinners appreciate the time it takes to make the fiber. "Mostly I spin to knit with and not sell. I sell online to feed my addition so I can spin more," she says with a big smile.
To find and purchase Wild Faerie Caps online go to http://www.etsy.com/shop/WildFaerieCaps