Dye workshop; Ivy leaves and Avocado

Yesterday I taught my second dye course at Tribe Yarns in London. It’s bringing me such immense pleasure to teach natural dyeing, all in the hope people will fall in love with it as much as I have. I taught an introductory course where we dyed with two dye plants; avocados and ivy. I want to use locally foraged plants in my workshops to show the possibilities of plants nearby. As were now in December and winter is upon us there is less plants to forage, but the evergreen ivy has been a plant on my dye list so I thought it was a great experiment for me as well.

I collected the ivy leaves around the corner of my house. There are huge bushes growing everywhere.

Ivy dye recipe:

160 g yarn

500g Ivy leaves

We simmered the leaves for an hour revealing a light yellow dye bath. Keeping the leaves in, we added the skeins and simmered for an hour.

L-R Ivy +Iron & Ivy

Avocados are having a moment as a ‘it’ dye plant and as a fan of their colour (and taste), I felt like it was a great choice for a second dye plant. I had prepped my avocados a few days prior to the course. I had them on the stove at home for 3 days beforehand, simmering them each day for an hour letting the stones oxidize and slowly extracting colour. My friend Jules (woollenflower) has a great method on her blog for another way to bring out the colour; where you create an alkaline enviroment for slow colour extraction. I have yet to try this, but have always gotten great results with slow simmering.

L-R Avocado + Iron & Avocado

Avocado dye recipe:

17 avocado pips (frozen)

160g yarn

As the dye bath had been prepared earlier, we went straight in to dyeing and simmered our skeins for an hour.

As we ended up with a smaller group of dyers than anticipated, we played a little bit with an iron after bath. I had brought some iron with me, 2 g which I dissolved in the ivy bath. I had divided the skeins in half and simmered them for 15 minutes in the iron bath.

Definitely my favourite kind of way to spend a Sunday. And I love learning new things myself when teaching


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