I always have a plastic bucket in my kitchen to gather onion skins for dyeing yarn, but more recently I discovered that avocado skins will also give colour. I have seen mixed results with avocado, mostly ranging from the palest pink to light shades of grey. So I wasn’t totally convinced that this would work. But I set up another plastic bucket to save the avocado skins rather than putting them down the waste disposal. I also kept the pits as they have valuable tannin, which is needed for mordanting plant fibres.
After I had gathered about 5-6 avocado skins, in various stages of drying and mold, I put these into my dye vat and heated it up for a few hours. Some pinkish shade of colour did appear in the dye solution. Fingers crossed and hopeful…
I removed all the avocado skins and I added the Seacell yarn that I had handspun into the avocado dye stock solution. I put the lid onto the stock pot and let the yarn simmer for a few hours.
To my delight and surprise the seacell yarn had taken the colour quite nicely.
I let the dyebath cool and removed the yarn. I rinsed it out and let it dry. The yarn did lighten a bit once it dried, but I am quite pleased with the colour.
And using my red onion skin bath I also dyed some handspun flax yarn.
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I have been a handweaver, hand spinner and dyer for many years, mostly working with traditional fibres such as wools and silk. Recently I discovered the newly expanding world of plant fibres. With developments in textile technology, wonderful new fibres for the hand spinner and felt maker have become available.Derived from materials previously thought of as waste, these fibres are reclaimed from plants such as bamboo, bananas, rose stems and other cellulose materials. I purchased a few small samples and began to spin them. I fell in love with the silky softness, textures and diversity that plants can offer to the textile world.
Looking at some of the new handspun yarns I had created, I thought that adding a bit of colour would make them even more beautiful. It didn’t seem appropriate to use chemical dyes to colour them – plants must be dyed with plants. So my small experiments with the world of plants carried on. The natural dye pots and vats came out of my cupboard and were again filled with tree barks, roots and flowers. I soon found out, that the traditional natural dye recipes needed a few tweaks and modifications to work with cellulose rather than protein fibres. The mordants that prepare the fibre to absorb the dye had to be changed. The temperature and length of time in the dyebath were revised. Even the colours that you expect to achieve are different when you dye a plant rather than a wool. Expect the unexpected. The natural dye bath is a new discovery every day.
Here are some of my yarns and discoveries.
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