Natural Dye Notebook :: No. 3, Avocado Pits

Posted by Erin Howe on

Once, what seems a lifetime ago now, I lived on what had been a hillside avocado farm. There were avocado trees everywhere in various stages of dying, some of which I was able to save and baby along by watering them with priceless southern California city water. We had a basket on the windowsill that just kept avocados ripening all during avocado season. What a strange thing to imagine now.

Last year I took up quilting, and as soon as I realized how small a scrap of fabric could still be used, the number of good quilting scraps I’ve thrown away over the years began to bother me like an entire quilt top of lost opportunity. The feeling I’m having about avocados right now is the same. When I think about all the avocado pits I threw out because I didn’t know they could dye things pretty pink…

But all we can do is move forward. Avocados are not now local to me, and my main focus is on dyestuff I can grow or forage locally, so they don’t really qualify. But my husband, a California transplant, must have avocados, and so I have an endless supply. 

I’m surprised to find how much I love the dyed cardstock. Also, for the second time the baking soda dip has brought out the prettiest color. 

Procedure notes:

Directly after removing the dyebath from the stove, I’m pouring some into a bowl with a dollop of vinegar or lemon juice, some into a bowl with a teaspoon of baking soda (which fizzes), and some into a third bowl to stick the cardstock in for about an hour. I thought it best not to actually boil the cardstock. Then one of my Kona cotton swatches go in with the baking soda, one with the lemon juice. The lemon almost always lightens the color, the baking soda often deepens it. 

I used four avocado pits for this dyepot, simmered in a mini crockpot overnight. 


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