Eco Dye Experiment: Avocado Pits

I like flipping through quilting books in the library with the hope that something will reach out and grab me. There are traditional style quilts shown, which are helpful if I want to learn a traditional pattern, and art quilt books that can be either breathtaking or same-old/same-old, and books that are in between. 

I found one recently that I decided to buy by Rachel May, Quilting with a Modern Slant (amazon associate link). It has a nice mix of styles and techniques and approaches, great examples, and a few short instructions. Mostly it is a book of inspiration and stories behind the quilts and quilters. Not a beginner's book. But there are a few "how-tos" included.

I was particularly intrigued by the tutorial by Sasha Duerr on pp. 152-153: "Dyeing with Avocado Pits." What? Just boil them with the cloth and you get pink or maroon? Add an iron solution to turn it gray or blue or black? Neat! Must try, I thought. So I saved avocado pits. Once I had a dozen, I put them in a pot with water to boil.

I can't say I got the rich colors she describes, but it was an interesting experiment that I documented as I went along. After about 40 minutes, it looked like this:

I added the wet cotton cloth after the bath had been simmering about an hour and a half.

Another hour later, I added the homemade iron solution, nearly all of it, eventually.

It started reacting, as I had hoped.

At first I took photos every twenty minutes, but after adding the iron solution (rusty nails soaked in water/vinegar 2:1; my solution was three weeks old), I didn't see much further change, so I decided to let it soak overnight.

I rinsed it in hot water until I saw no more color escaping, then hung it to dry.

When I ironed it out I ended up with a medium light gray with interesting markings. 

I used about a dozen pits. The only thing I can think of why I didn't get a darker color was that I needed to scour the fabric more. I used a "Ready for Dye (RFD)" cotton, and I don't remember if I had washed it prior to storing it or not. Other variables: she suggests using "fresh" pits, or ones immediately frozen (I kept mine out in a bucket until I needed them); and she suggests the iron solution can be used "after one or two weeks" and mine was three-weeks old.

But I can use it. I can always use whatever I dye… ; )