I don’t quite remember when I first became aware of avocado dye. I think when I was searching for food colouring dyeing I accidentally came across it. In any case, dusty rose/salmon is one of my favourite colours, I like making do, and I like experimenting so I had to give it a go. I tried avocado dyeing before with a lukewarm result. I used 100g 100% pure lambswool yarn, mordanted it with about a teaspoon of alum overnight, and dyed for 2 days. I think I used pits and skins from about 7 avocados. It turned out to be murky light peach colour, which I still liked but wasn’t too impressed. The yarn also felted a little and got scratchy. But it was okay because I got the yarn for free and it was my first try. Fast forward a year, I got bitten by a dyeing bug again. Particularly I wanted to make another version of Kasha, in a colour that flattered me better. So I decided it was time to try avocado dyeing again. This time I decided to be more thorough because I was going to dye a large quantity of yarn so the stakes were high. I looked at some bare yarns from Knitpicks and Craftsy, and noticed that Craftsy were doing 50% off sale on their Superwash Merino Superwash Sock Twist yarns, which was actually cheaper than their bare yarn bundle. I ordered 4 skeins (400g total) of colour Ecru. I went all the way and even bought some PH strips. Mordanting This time I put a bit more effort in mordanting the yarn. Previously I only used alum, but this time I used alum and cream of tartar. I used 1 tbsp alum and 1 tsp cream of tartar per skein. I brought the temperature to about 85 degree centigrade (185 fahrenheit) and kept the temperature overnight by swaddling the pot (see below). Dyebath The main difference I made this time was the amount of pits I used. Thankfully the kitchens at my workplace process humongous amount of avocados each day for guacamole and other avocado goodies for the cafes, and I asked nicely if I could get my hands on some of them. I asked for 40 pits – 10 pits per 100g skein for the first bath. In total I used 80 pits, because I had to dye the yarns twice to get the colour above. The wonderful staff at work cafes was very indulging to put up with my weird requests. I chopped them up and added about 6 avocado worth of skins and brought them to simmer (about 85 centigrade) at which point the dye bath looked murky brown. I added about 2 teaspoon of washing soda and simmered some more which turned the dyebath dark pink. The PH strip read 11. I extracted the dye over 2 days (2 simmers per evening). In order to save energy, I turned off the gas after it reached the temperature and swaddled the pot. It’s a trick I saw in ‘Wartime Farm’ which I watched only about 8 times now. The folks used to bring a stew to boil, and then put the pot in a haybox to continue cooking to save fuel during the WW2. How clever is that! I put a merino wool jumper that I only wear in the house, 2 bath towels, and put a t-shirt over it to hold them. I swaddled the pot, and went to bed. The pot was still warm the next morning. Meanwhile I kept the yarn submerged after rinsing the mordant because I wanted to achieve as even dye as possible. Once I deemed the dye bath ready (it looked as dark as it was going to get but I think I could have extracted more dye), I ladled the dye stuff out and put the yarn in. Once again I brought it to simmer (85 centigrade), swaddle, let it cool down, and repeated it about 4 times over 2 days. At that point the dye bath became paler (picture below), so I took the yarn out. I loved the colour of the yarn when I first took it out, but I underestimated how much lighter it was going to get once it dried. The above was the result of the first dye, once it’d fully dried. The colour was beautiful salmon, but not quite as dark as I had hoped for the particular purpose. I also saw minor irregularities in the dye, because there was some dye stuff left in the pot which darkened the parts of yarn that it adhered to. After much deliberation I decided to over-dye it with more avocado. 2nd dye I asked for another 40 avocado pits, and basically repeated the same process, except I simmered the dye bath about twice more which made the dye bath even darker. I didn’t bother mordanting the yarn again. And this time I actually took the trouble to sieve the liquid to thoroughly remove the dye stuff. The dye bath looked almost black. I brought the yarn to simmer about three times and took it out as I didn’t want to make the yarns too dark. And voila, I managed to get deep desaturated rose colour out of avocado. To be honest, I wish it had a bit more orange and brown in it, but I’m perfectly happy with it. There are many factors that might have contributed to the better result. 1) The yarn was merino, 2) it was superwash, 3) I added cream of tartar on top of alum for mordanting, but 4) perhaps most importantly I used tons more avocado pits for this batch. The dyebath still had a lot of dye left in it, so I ordered some more yarn to dye another batch. Tldr; here’s the summary. Yarn: 4 x 100g skein Craftsy Cloudborn Merino Superwash Sock Twist Yarn. 80% Superwash merino wool, 20% poly. Mordant: 4 tbsp alum + 4 tsp cream of tartar Dye stuff: In the end I used in total about 80 avocado pits and 6 avocado skins Dye bath: Dyed twice. Brought to simmer to 85 degree centigrade, followed by swaddling and cooling until it reached desired strength – until the dye bath looked almost black. Reached PH level 11 by adding 2 tsp washing soda (per dye bath) after the first simmer. I made the washing soda by baking baking soda in the oven at 400 for an hour. There was a lot of dye left in the second bath. I might have achieved the same result by using about 60 pits and exhausting the dye. Learnings: Sieve out the dye stuff thoroughly before putting yarn in to prevent dark spots Use the swaddle method (?) to save energy Tie the skeins in 2 additional places to prevent tangles Since this turned out to be a success, I’m thinking to try my hands at other natural dyes. I like to reduce my carbon footprint whenever possible and living in California where we get about 2 weeks of rain per year if we’re lucky, the amount of water needed to dye yarns always makes me feel a little guilty, but I do my best to reuse and save. I have my eyes on brown onion skin dye and I discovered some lichen growing in the back yard just this morning. Oh the possibilities! I should order more yarns.

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