The pot of gold.

For many rug hookers and dyers, onion skins (those brown, papery, inedible coverings from yellow onions) are worth their weight in gold.  Actually, since they weigh virtually nothing, they are worth a thousand times their weight in gold.  Onion skins are often added to the dye pot when a muted primitive color is desired.  They can be used in conjunction with other dyes or alone.

I’m almost ready to hook the background on my latest super secret rug (sorry, no photos).  I bought some lovely wool from Rebecca Erb at The Wool Studio, called “circles and squares”.  It was hooking up very light, so I decided to cook it up with some onion skins.  This will mottle the wool and give it antique look, which is just what I want.

I was sad to notice that my supply of onion skins is very low.  It seems as though the grocery stores nowadays are sloughing off these skins so that their onions look neater.  At least I guess that’s what’s going on.  I used to fill a produce bag with onion skins and one actual onion so I’d have something to buy, but I think those days are gone.  I do have a few other sources, though.  I don’t cook with many onions, so those other sources don’t include my kitchen.

After cooking up a yard and a half of the background wool, I see that it has not only a golden color, but also some pink undertones.  Interesting…  I think it will work out just fine in this rug.


There’s a lot of beauty out there and in the colors derived from nature’s bounty.

Before and after dyeing with onion skins.

Before and after dyeing with onion skins.