Using Avocado Skins to Dye Wool

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I have to admit, I have had the itch.  I have been itching to dye with plants, and yet I must wait until my dye garden begins to grow-outside.  And that is not happening any time soon.  After all it is February.  Although you wouldn’t know it since we have little to no snow and the temperature has yet to dip below zero for days in a row.  Not that I am complaining.  I don’t mind it.  But I still have the itch.

So I decided to take some avocados and use the skins to dye wool fabric.  This was my first time using both avocado skins and fabric to dye with.  I think I made out okay.  I used 100% wool suiting and four avocados.  Avocados were on sale at the local Cub foods store, so I figured, why not?

My method:  I let the skins soak/fester in water for a week.  I was going to try to take the pH of the water throughout the week, but it didn’t change much.  I was kind of hoping that I would have gotten a drastically different pH by the end of the week, but the pH stayed between 7 to 8.  I simmered the avocado skins for 45 minutes and then put in alum mordanted wool fabric.  I simmered the dye pot for 40 minutes the first time and ended up with a surprising color.  Here is a picture of the fabric from the first round of dyeing.

I was pretty amazed to see a pinkish brown color come out of the dye pot.  Here you have blackish green avocado skins that resulted in a dyed piece of fabric that is pinkish brown.  When the fabric initially came out of the dye pot, the fabric looked purple, but after rinsing out the excess dye, the fabric turned out this color!  Amazing!  Eventually I will learn the chemistry of natural dyeing.

I took another piece of wool to use the dye pot again with a different style of wool.  This wool had lines in it and is a bit softer than the first piece of wool fabric I used.  Here is the second dye pot batch:

The second dye batch turned out a bit lighter, but is still a nice pinkish tan color.

And finally, I did a little experiment and used the remaining dye liquid and let the fabric sit in the dye for 8 hours without simmering it.  I wasn’t expecting anything amazing, but the dye turned the fabric a fleshy color.  Here is the picture of the final dye batch:

I also put all three pieces of fabric together to show the differences between the three batches.  I wanted to show that even though you have used dye liquid, other colors can be created from the remaining dye liquid. Aren’t they beautiful?  I think I might have to change from dyeing yarn to fabric!  My main problem with dyeing fabric was controlling the bubbles created in the dye pot and ending up with uneven colors.  However, I think that this creates interesting aspects to the fabric.  It may be nice to have an even dye, but it is also great to have an uneven color that creates the kind of art that I make.  My art is neither perfect, nor is it done to a pattern.  I generally have an outline and use it as guidelines-kind of like the pirate code in Pirates of the Caribbean!

I really enjoyed dyeing fabric and cannot wait to dye more!  I might have to use the skins of the many Cuties that have come into our house recently.  Orange skins might create a beautiful color and I am guessing that it will smell really good too!

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2 responses »

  1. Hello! My name is Diana Wiley and I am the Executive Director of a nonprofit working with widows in Rwanda. Our ladies hand spin Merino wool and then dye the wool using native plants. I ran across your blog on using avocado skins and I would love to pick your brain! Lots of avocados in Rwanda. Could you email me with phone contact info? diana.wiley@truevineyard.org Thanks!

    • Hi Diana, I think I emailed you last year about this post, but I never did hear back from you. I was pretty excited to hear about your project! I have taken a little medical leave of absence from my dyeing, but am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. Let me know if you still want information, I would really like to hear how things are going with you as well! Thanks again for checking out dyednaturally!

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