In Part one of my post on avocado dye, I left with the dye looking sad and murky and wondering how to improve it. As I like to do with any dye I haven’t worked with before, I do a pH test to see if I can get a better color than what the tap water will give me. In the photo below, I took three equal sized samples of the dye – the one in the middle is the natural pH, which, given that avocados are basic, was probably a little higher pH that neutral, but I call it neutral for practicality’s sake. The left sample I added some lemon juice and vinegar to, and although the lighter pink color was closer to what I was hoping to get from the dye, it also weakened the strength of the solution overall.
The one on the right was what I decided to go with, because although it was not the color I was hoping to get, it was by far the strongest looking dye, and I read elsewhere that avo dye works best when very basic. So then I added some soda ash that I made myself a year or so ago, putting in good few shakes – maybe 3-4 tablespoons – to the dye bath.
I was really sad that it didn’t make too much of a difference to add the soda ash initially, and I resigned to believing I would get a boring beige-yellow cowl in the end.
While submerging the wool though, I accidentally smooshed one of the pits in the bath. I had decided to filter out just the skins, in hopes that the pits would make it more pink. This is where the magic happened! I noticed that after soaking, the pits had gone from being a colorless white, to being pink, grey, and even a deep rose in some parts. I found that after soaking overnight, they were mushy and could be ground to nearly dissolve in the water. I mushed all of them up, and threw them back in the pot, hoping for a miracle.
Wool only shrinks when shocked with a sudden and drastic temperature change, so I put the burner on very low (like 2.5/10) and left it to simmer for upwards of 4 hours. Then I turned the heat off and left it to sit longer overnight.
I woke up on Christmas morning the next day to find the best gift of all – my dye bath had turned an amazing shade of deep red! At times it was almost a blood red, and was very opaque and rich. Although the bath had been diluted by almost 100% the day before, raising the pH and dissolving the pits made up for it and created this wonderful color.
After wringing out the cowl very well, but not rinsing it, I let it dry in the bathroom for two days. I don’t recommend doing this with finely woven/knit fibers, as the dye particles will shift with gravity and dye unevenly throughout the fabric. I’ve learned this the hard way. But because of the uneven nature of the wool, I decided to do it because it wouldn’t show much, just to be sure the dye was holding. After it dried, I gave it a good rinse under room temp to lukewarm water. This took about 10 minutes to get the water to run mostly clear.
Here it is after two days drying!
In the end, I’m pretty happy with the results because I ended up getting just the color I wanted! The exhaust bath (if you could even call it that), still had plenty of kick left to dye another little cotton scarf I had scoured from a while ago (no mordant). Even after all that, I saved most of it in a jar, and its still very much rich and opaque and ready to keep on going strong.
Look at how dark the leftover dye still is!!