Adventures in Avocado

Oh, the delight I feel when I show off my avocado yarn! Peoples’ eyes go wide with disbelief when they hear of the color’s source. One of nature’s little surprises, these green-brown drupes will render a range of colorfast pinks to fibers of all kinds.

Avocados make an excellent beginner’s natural dye. The material is found at the grocery store, and the dye is rife with natural tannins, meaning it will bond easily to fibers and last without a mordanting step. It’s a great excuse to eat more of this fatty green treat!

Expectations

Reports range from rosy-browns to veritable tickle-me-pinks. Variation in results may stem from different avocado types or countries of origin / growing conditions / seasons.

Supposedly the pits have more pink in them, and supposedly the dye is best extracted from fresh or frozen specimens. Just ensure the green flesh is washed off prior to use.

Materials

  • 50g superwash wool from a deconstructed thrift store sweater
  • the skins of 2 whole avocados plus 1 pit
  • large stockpot (just like in chemistry class, your dye utensils should not double as food utensils)
  • chopstick or tongs (not used for food)
  • enough water to cover the specimen (to control for variables, it’s advised to use distilled and/or filtered water. I used tap.)
  • a few drops of dish soap

Procedure

  1. Wash all the green flesh off of the skins and pits.
  2. Fill the stockpot with water and add the avocado remains.
  3. Bring to a simmer for 1 hour.
  4. While the dye bath is brewing, soak the wool in tepid water with a few drops of dish soap for 30 minutes.
  5. Rinse and squeeze all the soapy water from the yarn. Do not wring, as this will stretch the yarn fibers.
  6. Place the yarn gently in the dye bath. I left the avocados in the bath to try and extract even more dye, but you can choose to take them out at this point.
  7. Simmer the yarn in the dye for at least 1 hour more. I left it for 2.5 hours.
  8. Turn off the heat. I removed the yarn at this point, but you may be able to deepen the colors if you let the yarn sit overnight.
  9. Rinse the yarn in tepid-to-warm water with a drop of soap until the wash bath runs clear (no more excess dye is rinsing from the yarn).
  10. Hang the yarn to dry out of sunlight.

Results

Undyed wool (left) and avocado dyed wool (right)

Ooos and aahs emanated from my evening guests when I pulled the yarn from the pot. This tends to be the reaction I get with any dye experiment, some variation of, “Wait, this came from that?!”

My yarn turned a lovely, fashionable shade of dusty rose. The color is definitely saturated through the fiber, and though it is a subdued color, it shines true, as shown by its juxtaposition with its undyed sibling.

Conclusion

Two thumbs up. Avocado skins will be abundant and easy to come by from friends’ kitchens, so I am very eager to try this again with double the dye materials per yarn weight. This shade will pair nicely with other plant dyes when I go to knit it up!

References

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