16 January 2020

Can't Stop Dyeing

heavenly avocado skin dye

It wasn't how I needed to spend a Saturday afternoon, but it was the first Saturday afternoon I had to myself in several months, and by golly, I'm dyeing to spend it!!!

I actually started the first portion of this project a couple of weeks ago. I'd brought in five of my avocado pit and skin dyes in September prior to our first frost, hoping if they stewed a bit longer, I could eke more color from them. Some of these jars have provided four or five dips already.

My amaryllises are going nuts and all beginning to bloom, and I didn't have window space for the dyes anymore. Those cumbersome jars had to go.

So I wound four hanks of crochet thread and strained every last one of the jars. The fifth and darkest dye jar got a pair of cotton socks about a month ago, when I first started pulling the amaryllises out of the basement, one by one, one each week so the staggered blooms would last as long as I could make them. I poured the sock jar contents into my dye pot, which I left on the floor in the garage. I can't solar dye outside anymore because the jars would freeze every single night. There have been days when the dyes wouldn't have thawed in the sun because our highs have been in the 'teens. (We've also had a few unseasonable 60s, and boy, are those refreshing!)

I let the thread soak in the dyes in the jars on the floor in the kitchen for a whole week. Each night when I got home from work, I nuked each jar in the microwave for one minute. I totally forgot about the socks until last weekend. The socks had survived the deep freeze cycle, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Saturday, I strained the socks and the threads so I could reclaim my garage and kitchen floors.

The thread colors aren't as dark as I'd hoped, but I LOVE the new earthy shades, especially that pastel pink!

And check out the socks!!! Oh, my! Perhaps I should let some thread in avocado dye freeze in the garage a couple of times to see what happens!

I was so tickled with the range of colors, even though the threads are so pastel, I couldn't contain my curiosity any longer. Four of the avocados I bought about a month ago had a lot of visible red hue in the skin. Surely these skins would produce some awesome reds or pinks, right?

I typically do not save skins during the winter because I don't know if they would produce color after being frozen, like what I get from the pits after five months in the freezer. And I don't have window space to solar soak the skins while the amaryllises are craving sunshine. These red-toned avocados, however, presented more temptation than I could resist. Surely I could make space for just one little jar...

This is four avocado skins. They've soaked in the window in the sun for just about three weeks. I wound one more hank of crochet thread and strained the new avocado skin dye, then just about floated out of the atmosphere when I saw the color on the thread!!!

I'm going to let this thread soak for another week. I don't know if the final color will be this rich, but oh, can I dream!

If I do get such rich color from this batch of skins, I think I will buy a bunch more avocados and try to make another batch of dye after the amaryllises are done, and perhaps I can darken up my avocado dress next summer!!! Oh, how heavenly that would be!!!

While I was cleaning up the avocado dye mess, I decided I should go ahead and discard the first set of professional dyes I mixed, perhaps ten years ago. They've been patiently waiting to be used in the basement all this time. I learned after the first couple of dye sessions that professional dyes weaken with age and that my bottles probably wouldn't produce any lasting color after about three months. But I couldn't bring myself to throw them out. They were all very small bottles, the one-ounce travel bottles available in grocery and department stores.

As I began to collect the very aged dyes, I decided it wouldn't hurt to try using them. If the colors don't stick, no big deal; I can overdye. I dug out a PFD remnant from my snow-dyeing days and then decided a pair of socks might be fun, too. I mordanted the cotton in soda ash with salt, then laid out the dyeables on the rocks in the backyard and squirted away.

I then nuked the fabric and socks for 30 seconds, then laid them out in the basement. I didn't have any idea what they would look like after washing, but perhaps it would be a fun little waste of time.

I opened the washer expecting to find such pastel colors, they could pass as white. I am SO glad I didn't just toss the dyes! I'm so glad I gave them the chance to show their stuff! The greens and blues are pretty pale, but this turned out far better than I expected!

I then decided I could make room on one window sill for a few small dye jars. I wound eight more hanks of crochet thread, then prepared my little stackable plastic ice cream jars with a rainbow of colors.

These will get to soak for a week, also. I'm hoping for more gradients to replace what I've almost used up. I love crocheting with gradient or variegated thread I've dyed myself and watching the color changes between stitches. One of my favorite things to do on the commuter train!

Linking up with Alycia Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.


  1. Snowcatcher, thank you for the nice comments about the picture, I am not a no photographer and don't play on on tv. Plenty of doorknobs, mirrors, and camera cords get in the way..hee hee...but it's fun. You are just amazing, dyeing. That avacado one really pretty, looks like a Salmon color. What prettyness(a word) that would make. I love your sunny shelves with the plants and clear bottles of pretty colors. ah...sunshine....spring is on the way....somewhere...patience grasshopper.

  2. Sure in a dyeing frenzy haha hopefully the rich colors do shine through after sitting for a week.

  3. I like your blue yarn. Hopefull, the rich avocado colour will stay and shine. :-) Good luck with your dress! Regula

  4. You have been busy! I occasionally think of dying fabric. Your success may inspire me.

  5. What a great day you had!!! that was a lot of dyeing! I like the varying colors that you got!

  6. I cannot recall where I left the comment about the 3d snowflake. I found a tutorial, and it would seem all you need are 3 snowflakes. So..I will go through your list of beauties, and assemble (or try to assemble one. It is much easier than I thought it would be.


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