Natural Dyeing with Avocado Pits

The internet abounds with wild rumors and crazy claims. When I first heard that it was possible to dye yarn and fabric with avocado pits I was skeptical. Especially when it said the end color I would get was pink!

Of course I had to try it. It took a couple months to get enough material. I did some research and it seemed to be that the pits gave more of a pink color while the skins gave a darker tinge to the dye. I chose to use mostly pits and only added in one or two skins.

Wash the pits (and skins if you decide to use them) and put them in a bag in the freezer until it is time to get dyeing. How much dye stuffs you need will depend on what you plan to dye. I had a skein of white wool, roughly 100 grams. I used about 7 or 8 pits.

I chopped them into quarters and then put them in a glass container with some ammonia and water. I used two cups of ammonia to four cups of water.

I then let the pits and skins stew in the ammonia/water mix for about 4 days. I was going off a recipe I found on-line but it didn't really explain why it used ammonia. It did end up pulling a lot of color out of those pits. Probably something to do with a chemical reaction between the ammonia and the pits. I know urine (which contains ammonia) has been used in dyeing for centuries.

Once the dye stuffs and liquid had stewed for a couple days I put it into my large cooking pot and put it on a single electrical burner outside. Do this outside because the ammonia smell would be way too much inside.

Filter out the pits and skins when you put it into the pot so that there is more room for what you are dyeing.

White wool yarn was my choice to dye. If your yarn is not already loosely tied together then do so now at four points to keep it from knotting up too much. I also washed the wool with a gentle soap in case there was any left over residue.

While prepping the dye material, bring the dye liquid to a simmer.

Add dye material while wet so that the dye water will spread more evenly through the material. If the dye material is dry then the color may be absorbed more in some areas than other. I put mine in dry because I forgot to get it wet and because I don't mind if it comes out splotchy. I like the variation in color.

Use tongs to get the material fully submerged. If you are dyeing wool yarn try not too agitate it too much or that will cause felting. But you do want to stir it around enough to thoroughly saturate the material with dye liquid.

Now is when I had planned to let this smelly mess simmer on low for a hour to aid the dye penetrating into the wool. However, 10 minutes in it started to rain. Fail. Electrical hot plate + rain = danger. So a ten minute simmer was all this got and then I put it in the garage. 

So I let the material sit in the dye bath for about 24 hours and then took it out to see what it looked like.

It did give me a very light pink after it was washed and dried. I like it but thought it could be darker so I put it back in the dye bath. I turned the heat back on for another half hour or so (until is started to rain again) and then let it sit in the dye bath for another 48 hours. Why? Because I had to go to work and couldn't play with it.

This photo doesn't really do the color justice. It is darker but also more pink than it shows in this picture. It is actually a nice dusty rose color. 

After I washed the wool it didn't smell like ammonia which I was a little worried about. Also, I'm not sure how well the color will hold up. I didn't use any mordant to bind the color so the color might fade but I'm fine with that. If you want to dye fabric for clothing you might want to do a test with a mordant to see if it helps keep the color intact. I foresee more tests with avocado pits.