If you’ve read my blog for a while you’ll know that I am really enjoying exploring natural dyes. I don’t suspect I’ll ever be as prolific or dive in as deep as others I know, but I’m having fun at the moment.
As part of that, I like the idea of using found-dyestuffs; things from my garden or wanderings, or in this case, my kitchen. While lots of natural dyestuffs are available by order, these found-dyestuffs appeal to me – for lots of reasons, including economy!
I don’t recall the first place I heard about using avocado as a dyestuff – possibly on the Facebook Natural Dyeing group. I liked the idea of saving something from my compost bin (or rather, delaying their inclusion) to dye with, so began saving the pits and skins over a few months. (I don’t eat a lot of avocados, even though I love them…)
I’d read somewhere to clean them of the fruit as much as possible, and then pop them in the freezer to preserve them until working with. Once I had 5 (I think?) I took them out of the freezer, and dropped them into my dyepot. I’d read that you can use the pits or the skins or both… and it was easy enough to use both – so I did.
I simmered the pits and skins – but I don’t recall how long… I’m afraid that I kept terrible notes…
In reading a few other blogs about it though, it sounds like 20-60 minutes is possible, waiting for the water to change colour.
Once that happened, I strained out the pits, skins, and little bits of extra fruit flesh I’d missed previously until I had just liquid.
So then it was time for my fibre!
Although I know that I would get deeper, darker, or more long-lasting results by pre-mordanting my fibres, I knew it was possible to dye with avocado without a pre-mordant. I opted not to… since… well… I didn’t have anything. LOL
Rebecca Desnos states that there are enough tannins in the pits and skins to not need a mordant on protein fibres. (She also recommends selecting the super dark avocados with a slight purple cast to them for the best dyes…)
For this first dyebath I put in a few skeins of handspun wool yarn, a piece of white silk satin, a peice of silk noil, and a piece of white linen.
I let the fibre sit in the dyepot just under a simmer for… well I’m not too sure how much time. Then I let it cool in the pot, before removing it, and giving it a wash.
The fiber was all washed with a bit of soap to remove excess dye, and then hung outside on an overcast day (out of direct sunlight).
The following photos are some of the fibers drying outside in my backyard. Yep… despite the weather today… I actually did the dyeing in the late summer, so my yard looks distinctly different in these photos!
Kathryn Davey has a ‘recipe’ (which I didn’t follow for my dyes) on her blog for dyeing with avocado. I especially like the little swatch card showing some of the over-dyeing and mordanting she tried, and the results they offered.
Rebecca Desnos has a number of tips and tricks about dyeing with avocado. I didn’t read this until after my experiment…
Washing the fabric didn’t show a lot of colour loss. The small scrap of both silk and linen (above) is unwashed, while the larger piece has been washed… you can see that the silk went a little pinker, and less apricot… which actually I’m pretty happy with. The linen – well, it didn’t seem to have any colour change at all (but also didn’t dye very deeply to begin with…)
Sam’s blog article reminds to weigh dyestuffs, and do a 1:1 ratio of dyestuff to textile or 2:1 ratio for deeper colour. I.. didn’t weigh anything.
Along with the white silk satin, I also dyed some light tan silk noil. Because the base of the fabric was much darker (and possibly because of the type of silk), the resulting fabric is also quite a bit darker as well. The before and after is demonstrated in the photo above.
Once my first dyepot was done… I decided to give a second dye with the same pot a try. I’ve read that you can keep the dye for a bit and use it again, but I’d tried that with my marigold & aster dye… and then never got around to it, and when I pulled it from the fridge it was moldy…
So I decided to give it a go right away with some additional skeins of handspun wool yarn. The results were… interesting…
I’m guessing for the second round of dyeing that the dyepot was exhausted, so the result was this soft pastel grey as shown above. I actually kind of like it – and it mixes beautifully with the pink as seen below.
The Cuesa site is the page I looked at before dyeing, though as you have probably guessed from my previous comments… I didn’t exactly follow everything exactly.
I’m not entirely sure what I’ll use the pink dyed yarn for; avocado isn’t suitable for use for Viking Age naalbinding, so I won’t be using it for that… so I’m considering picking up the knitting needles for the first time in a while for it.
I do love the combination of the grey and pink together, so I’d like to figure out a way to use the two together.
So…. will you be trying avocado dyeing in the next little while? If not, and you’re in Calgary… please save your avocado skins and pits for me – I definitely want to try this again with a pre or post-mordant!
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