Little Golden Notebook

Where fiber art, inspiration, and words meet.

Day 6-7 Avocado Dye Experiment

Well, I couldn’t wait any more. With the butterfly bush dye experiment, I admit I also dyed some samples in the avocado dye baths. See?

avocado-dyed samples

Imagine the yarn is layed out in a circle. Starting with the top-most bunch of samples going counter-clockwise, we have:

    Pre-mordanted samples – alum, copper, iron 
    Pit-dyed samples – alum, copper, iron 
    Peel-dyed samples – alum, copper, iron

I realize now that there’s a better way to display these, but bear with me as I fool around.

I couldn’t wait any more to try dying with the avocado dye liquors. Plus, I needed one of the pots for the butterfly bush experiment. So Saturday, I put both of the avocado liquors into separate containers and then, because I’m not the best estimator or planner, I did some switching around to get all of the peel liquor into the biggest container. And by then – after rinsing and transferring, I just decided to try the liquors.

I cooked the pit dye bath (with sample) for a little over an hour and then let them cool in the pot overnight. I rinsed, dried them, and when I twisted them into skeins, they were dusty/sandy with starch from the pits – ugh. But otherwise, okay. They are, as Mr. Q noted, pretty peachy, except for the iron-mordanted sample, which is a pinkish gray. I wonder if a sample can be mordanted with iron but at a lesser concentration to get a lighter gray? Probably not – it probably doesn’t work that way, right? But maybe. (Anyone with experience/chemistry to back them up, please chime in.)

The peel dye bath is in a large clear plastic container sitting in full-sun on the deck. I put the samples in Saturday afternoon and left them in until this morning. Really, they only had 1 day cooking in the sun. The results are … brown. I’ll check them again in a day or two – it’s been consistently in the 90s with lows in the mid-70s, which should be plenty warm to get some more saturated results. I hope.

In addition to all that activity yesterday, I cook the rest of the butterfly bush blooms in the liquor that I used Saturday for about 2 hrs, let the liquid cool for a few hours, and then strained &  decanted it into 2 1-gallon jugs (milk & OJ jugs). The second just is 3/4 filled, so it’s not quite 2 gallons. I meant to cook it down some first, but … eh. Oh well. Hopefully it will keep.

And last, today I trimmed most of my lily of the valleys (convallaria majalis) and started a dye bath with them. They’re supposed to produce something from light green to a gold color, according to Natural Dyes and Home Dying, depending on what time of year the leaves are picked. Of course, this same book talks about using chrome as a mordant (a no-no these days), so we’ll see what color I get. Lily of the Valley leaves (and flowers and berries) are also toxic, so this may be the most dangerous thing I’ve dyed with so far. (Or maybe not; I am being careful & using goggles & gloves when handling the dye liquids.)


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