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Dyeing with avocado

Updated: May 11, 2021

The bonus of eating your body weight in avos is that both the skin and pits yield a range of soft colours in the dye pot - from salmon pink to rust and grey. Zero wasting at it's peak! Last winter I waited patiently for avocado season, and in summer I rejoiced in their return to the markets so I could make avocado dye. But over the season we collected so many pits that our freezer had no room for actual food. At which point they were evicted to outside where I dried out a huge batch in the sun. Now it's winter again I've discovered that the dried pits can be rehydrated and successfully retain their potential for dyeing. Which makes them a year round source of beautiful colour.

Here's a few tips if you want to give it a go for yourself.

Scrub off all the green avocado residue first. I prefer using pits as they are easier to clean. Pits & skins can be stockpiled in the freezer until you are ready to use them. Start by soaking them for 1 - 2 days to soften and then break up into pieces - this allows more surface area to oxidise.  Heat gently with rain water in a stainless pot for an hour, don't allow to boil. Let that steep for another 24 hrs.  Adding baking soda to the bath can shift the colour towards pink. A weak acid can shift towards rust colours. Strain and cool before adding pre-wetted and mordanted fibres and heat for 30 minutes, stirring gently as it warms. Submerge fabrics in the bath and leave overnight for a more intense colour. As avocado is pH sensitive, remember to use a neutral detergent when washing, like a wool wash.

Train your whānau and friends to save their pits and you'll have an endless supply for all year round. Send me photos of your results, I'd love to see what you do.


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