serendipitous beginnings, avocado dye and pattern work

indigo owl made from Japanese textiles

Sometimes I begin with somebody in mind and go looking. I spend a long time choosing, experimenting and thinking about just the right combination of texture and pattern and color. The indigo for the blue owl is all from Sri Threads. I love the variety in the blues.  Some other lovely old cloth from Sri is below, miraculous color and  wonderful mending stitches by other hands.

japanese textiles

The black and dark greens for another little owl are mostly Edwardian garments. I love the way the blacks fade, usually leaning purple or green as they do.

owl made form edwardian garments

cotton and wool fabric

Sometimes the beginning is entirely serendipitous, a suggestion from the universe. A combination I had not thought of and I was not looking for appears and I get an idea.

fabric boat and rabbit doll

I saw a sailboat and mrs. rabbit and made them immediately. They are both quick projects and  a good break from some slower work. Mrs. is made from the mr. socks pattern. I added long ears and reduced the size of the head cover by one quarter inch all around.

small rabbit rag doll

I’m also working on sewing patterns. I’ve got a bunch in progress and they are all a little stuck so I’m applying a creative sprint to the two that are closest to finished this weekend: the captain charmley doll and the mushroom print pattern. I can’t wait to share my method for creating his head and hair with you. So easy.

captain charmley : soldier rag doll

I’ll focus on just those two until they are done. After that I’ll start working on others again including a print version of the paper mache ships. It is a massive undertaking.

pink fabric dye made from avocado pits

And pink. A soft, moody pink. Just right. It’s made with avocado dye. I had no idea. This came up in the comments section to last week’s post (thanks Alicia). I made guacamole and then boiled and simmered the 5 pits for a couple hours. I love it. Have you tried this?


  1. Judith flynn

    How did u figure this out when the language is not English. Did the water just turn the funky color and out of this came this gorgeous pink

  2. Thank you for this. I reread the “creative sprint” and I’ll apply it to my own prototypes tomorrow. Yes, I immediately turn to more internet “research” or loosing myself in materials until I go into overwhelm rather than just hammer out the first creation – assess later. The distinction is brilliant and now that the light is on that tricky way I avoid the fear of “not doing it right,” I’ll thank it for sharing and move past it. I can be productive with the things I have down pat but this year I’m committed to being much more productive with new creative ideas.

  3. Judith Flynn

    Didn’t think to google avocado pit dye. Much on my mind and so Thank you much!

  4. Ann, I so appreciate that you share your wonders & your “oh, dear why isn’ this working?” It makes me want to do the same with a wild animal doll project on my studio table, lurches forward a ways, then slips backwards until patience reigns!

  5. You might have a look at the book Natural Color by Sasha Duerr. There is a wonderful rabbit hole to fall into that is natural dying with plant foods.

  6. I’m so glad you shared your dyeing experiment. We’ve been eating an avocado every day for the past week or so and I’ve blithely tossed the pits and skins. I’m going to save them up and experiment myself soon. We even have our wood stove going which is perfect for simmering a pot on.

  7. Such lovely dusky pink colours obtained by boiling avocado skins. I’ve dyed calico, muslin and yds of lace to match, gorgeous.

  8. Speaking of sailboats, I wanted to than you & let you know that my son is using the sailboat pattern as a jump off for a project for his English class. He’s reading the Life of Pi and making the boat with the tiger and Pi. Have been reading your blog forever. Thank you for the creativity, beauty and spirit.

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