Winter Dyes : Avocado, Berries and Turmeric

Back in December we had a surprisingly pleasant day and I happily spent it working in the barn while tending to dye pots. That day, I chose to work with avocados, berries, and turmeric. All of the fibers were mordanted with alum and cream of tartar.

The avocado was dyed with a deliciously soft skein of Ton of Wool Cormo. The result turned out much different from my first avocado dye last spring. I'm sure it's due mostly to the fact that the first was dyed with a superwash yarn. But I also wonder about the dyestuff. Although I used a higher ratio of avocados to fiber this time around, it was dried skins and pits, the latter of which were pale inside. Last spring, when I cracked the (frozen) pits open, they were a rich orange color. Regardless, the soft peachy beige color is a beauty.

The turmeric and mixed berries were done on a basic merino wool yarn. (A super cheap eBay find. It's not my favorite yarn, but it works well for testing out new dyes.) It might seem a little blasphemous to be using berries in dyeing instead of eating them, but most of them were "seconds," ones that were over-ripe or fallen to the ground. The result was a lovely plum color. Berries are notorious for not sticking to fiber very well and are less likely to be as lightfast over time. I've had luck so far with the former and only time will tell with the latter.

Finally, turmeric! Most of us have turmeric in our pantry and if you don't it's easy to get your hands on some, so it might be a great place to start if you're interested in natural dyeing. As could be expected, the final color is an orangey yellow. 

A lot of people have been emailing and commenting here, asking if I have any how-to's or tutorials on natural dyeing or if I can suggest any sources so they can learn, too. I am, slowly but surely, working on a series of dye posts, explaining a bit about dyeing and listing resources, and a hope to get them up by the spring. Many of you have also been asking when Buckaloo View yarns will be available for sale and I will announce that very soon.