Dyeing with Avocado + Dandelions

Last summer, I ventured into the world of natural dyeing. I started off with cheaper yarn and easier dyes like onion skins, black walnuts, beet greens and parsley. After the summer faded, I knew I was hooked on this medium and started planning for the next season. I’ve been stock piling yarn and planting things specifically for dyeing.

I like the idea of focusing on sourcing my dye material locally, using what I’ve grown or foraged for around here*, but occasionally kitchen scraps are too precious to pass up. And after only getting browns and yellows, I’m itching to get some other colors this year. So when avocados (which usually yield a pink hue) came into the house over the last few months, I made sure I saved the skins and pits (storing them in a bag in the freezer.) The pink-from-avocado always stumped me (and most other people) and it wasn’t until I cracked open the pits and saw some orange-y inside did I see how it could happen.

Since I was taking the time and energy to do up the avocado dye, I figured I’d try some dandelions as well. They are dotting the newly lush green lawn and (unsurprisingly) yield yellow. The whole time I was doing this dye job, I realized something about myself as a dyer: I don’t like measuring. I don’t like specifics or technicality. After last season, I told myself I should learn more of the ins-and-outs of how dyeing works, on a scientific level, like PH and reactions and mordant, etc. But I’d rather keep it all simple, intuitive and (surprising for me) a mystery. Some of you have asked if I will start selling hand dyed yarns and honestly, I would love to, especially if I can keep the process as it as it is now: simple, creative and fun. (And I might be looking for testers this year, to give me feedback on quality and whatnot!)

But here are some more specific notes if anyone comes across this post and is looking for a bit of guidance in their own dyeing. Both dyes were 50gm skeins of superwash merino with an alum and cream of tartar mordant. I used the broken pits and ripped up skins of 9 frozen-then-thawed avocados and a bowl full of fresh picked dandelions. I cut back on timing for everything so I might have ended up with richer colors.

*As this little passion grows, I hope to source my yarn and fiber more locally. Then perhaps take a stab at spinning my own yarn to dye. And maybe even raising fiber someday. (Oh, but that is quite the long-term goal…)