Well, I tried black bean dyeing. Another hue of light beige. I even mordanted this time! I did some research, and then promptly ignored it. Do not make your black bean juice too alkaline!
Here’s what I did. I weighed out the skein, added 10% of its weight in alum to some water, simmered the yarn, let it cool overnight. In the meantime, I put a pound of black beans in a BIG bowl, and soaked them for 24 hours. You can soak them for longer, but then you can’t eat the beans, as they start to get really tough, and may even start to ferment or mold.
I strained the beans, kept the juice in the bowl and the beans in my cookpot. (I cooked them in the leftover liquid from the corned beef my mom made when she was up… YUM!) Once the solids had collected at the bottom, I poured the top into quart jars. I’ve read that the stuff that settles at the bottom will keep the dye from being as vibrant.
Since I wanted to get all fancy, I amended three of the four quarts.
The vinegar turned the bean juice pink, and the wood-ash water turned it green. I saw over here that modifying with copper will intensify the blue, but the only copper I have is some pennies soaking in vinegar. So that ended up really being another vinegar modification. She also mentions in the VERY SAME POST that ammonia, aka a basic solution, will turn the yarn brownish-olive-drab. But I saw that lovely green and forgot all about that. Oops.
This is when it started to go wrong… Instead of letting things sit for several days, as one is supposed to, I couldn’t resist tweaking… and re-adjusting… and fussing… and in the end, after losing a good portion of the dye by making a volcano with some baking soda in the vinegar-modified jar, the entire thing went into the big bowl with some greenish looking bean juice. Sigh. Patience is a virtue I need more of, I guess!
BUT! On to the avocado pits!
This was after just 2 hours of soaking. This is about 200g of chopped avocado pits in water, with a half cup of wood-ash water added. It’s now been sitting for four days, and I’ve heated it twice now. The jar is too big for my microwave (it’s a 2-quart jar) so I used a bain-marie, which is a fancy word for “sitting it on top of some canning-jar rings in a pot of simmering water.” Apparently cooking it too hard is bad, alkalinity is good, and patience is best! The skein I want to dye is less than 100g, so I have hopes for this jar. The red has deepened, hasn’t turned brownish, and the pits look like they’ve lost most of their color. I think I’ll stick some yarn in it in a few more days.
I also bought some more black beans. I’ll get vibrant colors someday!! In the meantime I’ll keep reading the natural dyeing threads on Ravelry and dream of summer. Carrot tops! Jewelweed! Buckthorn! Hooray!