I decided my first full scale trial of natural dyeing was going to be with avocado stones and a bit of the skins. I had some lovely alpaca, linen, silk mix that I am planning to use for a triangular wrap and it would just right in a dusky salmon pink. By full scale I mean 3 skeins of the yarn.
I started off by washing and cleaning the avocado stones and skins and then covering them in water in my dye pot and putting them onto the cooker to get to a slow simmer. Once they had reached boiling point I turned them down for a short while – about half an hour and then left them over night to cool and allow the dye to leach into the water. The next day, I removed the skins and cut the stones in half and then half again and returned them to the dye pot for another slow simmer. They cooked for about an hour then I again, left them over night. I was very pleased with the colour in the morning. It was a lovely red, with a tinge of russet to it. I have no idea if I have enough for the 3 skeins but I am happy enough to have a very pale pink so we’ll go with it as it is.
While the avocado was steeping I prepared the yarn. I filled a large pan with warmish water and added just a tiny bit of wool detergent to help with the wetting process. I then dissolved just 15g of alum powder in warm water and added that to the pan. I then immersed my yarn and very gently moved it about to encourage the alum to react with the fibres. Avocado has natural tannin, so shouldn’t require as much mordant as some sites suggest. I should have used 8g per 100g of fibre, so 24g in total. This just seemed like a lot to me, so I played safe and went for 5g per skein.
I rinsed the skeins and pressed all the excess water out between two large towels and it was time to add them to the dye. I realised that I didn’t have enough for 3 skeins but decided I’d rather have 3 dyed the same but possibly not to such a deep colour. In they went and I added cold water to cover them all. I moved them about very gently and heated them to nearly boiling and then once again, left them over night.
By the time I rinsed them the following day they had turned a sort of dusky pinky brown. There is a slight varition in the colour which I like – I’m not too keen on the wild variations offered by some dyers. I rather like this and it will look just right in the pattern I have in mind for them. I’ll post another photo once they are dry as they will fade slightly in the process.
This is a hugely entertaining process and I have plans, many plans for others.