We have a fun DIY today from our DIY contributor Christy of One Handspun Day using natural dyes! I’ve been super interested to learn more about using natural dyes, so I’m excited that Christy is sharing a fun project using avocado pits as the dye – pretty amazing! I’ll let Christy explain more :)
This summer I spent a week in the beautiful foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains learning about the fascinating world of natural dyes from Sasha Duerr. The beauty of natural dyes is that the color will vary for every plant and may change completely depending on the season. One of the many exciting things we learned was how to use what are often considered kitchen waste materials as sources for natural dyes.
I am an avocado lover and eat them daily, so I was particularly interested in the use of avocado pits as dye material. Avocado pits can produce colors ranging from dusty pinks to burnt oranges – both of which we ended up with in our class and the latter of which was the color I created in this project.
Avocado Pits (Tip: Ask friends or a local Mexican restaurant to save avocado pits for you.)
Wool/Natural Fiber Yarn
Stainless Steel Pot
Knife & Cutting board
Trinkets & Trimmings (optional)
Step One: Make the dye
The weight of dye material should always equal the weight of fiber material when you are making natural dyes, so you will need enough avocado pits to equal the weight of your yarn. I used five avocado pits for one ball of yarn and had more than enough dye left over for future projects.
Thoroughly wash the avocado pits and roughly chop them. Watch how quickly the color changes from light beige to orange-red as oxygen hits it. Fill a stainless steel pot with enough water to cover all of the yarn (rainwater is ideal, but you can use distilled or tap in a pinch). Add the yarn and chopped avocado pits (wrap them in cheesecloth for easier cleanup). Bring the water to a gentle boil for 20 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cover for at least 40 minutes. Continue to simmer until the yarn reaches the desired saturation then turn off the heat and allow everything to sit overnight. Tip: test the dye color by carefully squeezing part of the yarn between your fingers and seeing what color remains in the yarn.
Remove the yarn and lay out to air dry. Gently rinse with PH neutral soap and allow to air dry again.
A few notes on safety when working with natural dyes: Always work in a well ventilated area, wear gloves, and do not use pots or utensils that you cook with – keep a set exclusively for creating dye.
Step Two: Create the tassels
Wrap yarn around a piece of cardboard or similar object until it is approximately an inch wide. Cut from the skein and tie the top with a small piece of yarn or thread. Cut the side opposite the tie to remove the yarn from the cardboard. Hold the tie and pull all of the yarn pieces down together to shape the tassel. Wrap yarn or thread around the top of the tassel and tie to secure. Repeat for as many tassels as you desire, adding pieces of non-dyed yarn for variety.
Step Three: String the tassels
String the tassels from the dowel using thread and add some beads, trinkets or other trimmings if it tickles your fancy!