Make your own natural dyes

NMake your own natural dyes

Who knew that you could make a dye from avocado stones?

 

Natural dyeing is back in fashion thanks to growing environmental concerns. Making your own colours at home with things you already have in your own kitchen cupboard is rewarding and perfect for keeping occupied during lockdown.

What exactly is natural dyeing, you might ask?

It’s a valid question given that many people’s experience with DIY dyeing is limited to childhood tie-dye experiments in a bucket or the rainbow rows of machine-washable Dylon packets found at the supermarket. 

As the name suggests, natural dyeing involves making coloured dyes from ingredients present in nature. Although a growing aversion to chemical products has put natural dyeing in the spotlight, the practice is actually an ancient one.

Before the invention of synthetic dyes in 1856, humans had been resourcefully brewing their own colours for hundreds of years.

These dyes were used to impart colour to household textiles and clothing. 

Throughout history there are numerous examples of people dyeing fabrics using local foodstuffs, plants and spices, producing an array of dazzling colours. In Asia, saffron was used to produce yellow. Closer to home, red was created from a dye extracted from the common madder plant. Lichen was used for purple and at the height of the English wool trade, woad was used for a brilliant blue. 

In industrial settings synthetic dyes are still used almost exclusively, but natural dyes continue to enjoy a quiet popularity among artists. As concern about industrial pollution grows, natural dyes are gaining appeal as a renewable resource with a low environmental footprint. 

GETTING STARTED 

Trying natural dyeing at home is easy and fun, and a great craft project to try with children during the school holidays. First, gather the materials you’ll use to make your colours. Refer to the list of common household ingredients and the colours they produce (see below) for inspiration. Some substances provide an unexpected surprise – who would have guessed avocado stones would produce such a gentle shade of rose?

MATERIALS AND TOOLS 

When selecting items to dye, choose your fabrics carefully. Synthetic fabrics, such as nylon and polyester, cannot be dyed using natural dyeing methods. Stick to cotton, wool, silk or older linen (which will take the dye better than new).

Some plant dyes need a ‘mordant’ to make their colour last, while others (such as avocado stones and tea) contain natural tannins that help bond the colour to the fabric. The most widely available mordant is soya milk. Soak your fabric in the diluted milk a few days before you wish to dye it, then wash in the machine, air-dry and repeat the process twice more for best results. Plant dyes which require pre-mordanted fabric include onion skins and turmeric. 

Experiment with different foods and plants to see which colours you can create. Once you start, you’ll begin to see potential dyeing projects all around you – in kitchen scraps, unloved weeds, flowers, the tea cupboard… When it comes to natural dyes, the joy is in the experimentation. 

A rainbow of colours

Natural dyes

Dye substance   Colour produced
Avocado skins/stones Pale pink
Black beans Blue
Blackcurrants Purple
Brown onion skins Orange
Coffee grounds Brown
Daffodil heads Yellow
Walnuts Pale Pink
Hibiscus flowers Red
Red onion skins Yellow
Rooibos tea Peachy orange
Stinging nettles Green
Turmeric Yellow

 

 

Natural dying

DIY plant-dyes tea towel

Makes enough dye to colour 3-5 tea towels

You will need:
Rubber gloves
Large, deep saucepan or pot
Water
4-6 avocado stones
Heatproof tongs or ladle
100% cotton or linen tea towels

  1. Put on the rubber gloves. Fill the pan or pot with water until two-thirds full.
  2. Add the avocado stones. Bring the water to a rolling boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Simmer the water for 30-60 minutes until it turns bright red.
  4. Remove the stones with tongs or a ladle, then add the tea towels, keeping the liquid gently simmering.
  5. After 15-20 minutes, the tea towels should be a light, peachy shade of pink. Soak for a longer period to achieve a deeper shade of pink.
  6. When the tea towels reach the desired colour, use tongs to remove them from the pot. Rinse in warm water, then hang to dry out of direct sunlight.
  7. To preserve the colour of your tea towel, wash on a cold wash after use and do not dry in direct sunlight.

TIP Repurpose old textiles to make your tea towels. Try tired, white duvet covers or pillowcases.

This article is taken from Dairy Diary 2021.

 

Emily Davenport

Emily Davenport

I post a blog every week featuring food, family and fun. There are lots of useful household tips, crafty ideas, giveaways and delicious recipes that I think you will find irresistible.

Travel with your tastebuds

Cumberland Rum Nicky

One of my goals for 2020 was to travel to various cities and towns without stepping foot on an aeroplane

 

I wanted to explore the British Isles, discover regional food and learn about local traditions. Obviously, we weren’t able to do this, so I am hoping I can at least start my UK travels in 2021.

Top of my list is Cumbria – I have visited Bowness-on-Windermere and adored every second, I definitely want to return as soon as I can!

My passion to explore the UK was inspired by our popular cookbook Around Britain, which features this fabulous dessert.

Cumberland Rum Nicky is a classic dish from Cumberland in the Northwest of England and is packed full of dried fruit, ginger and rum.

recipe


 

Win a set of 4 Pastry Forks & Cakes PlatesPlus WIN a fabulous Portmeirion prize

You could try the Cumberland Rum Nicky recipe, regardless of where you call home – and serve it on your brand-new Sara Miller London Portmeirion Chelsea cake plates!

For a chance to win this set of pastry forks and cake plates, visit our competitions page. Or…

ENTER NOW

 

 

 

 

Emma Snow
Emma Snow

I am the Brand Executive for Dairy Diary. A passionate foodie (with a very sweet-tooth). Who likes to blog about all things DIY & scrumptious recipes.

Read more on the 

The Art of Calm

The art of calm

In many ways, our lives are more taxing than ever before, and in particular, the past year has put much more stress on us all

 

Making an effort to incorporate moments of calm into your day can have positive effects for mind and body, including enhanced concentration and contentment.

There’s no denying that modern life can be stressful. Faced with longer working hours and the magnetic tug of our smartphones, choosing calm in the midst of chaos can sometimes feel like an insurmountable task. In today’s technology-oriented society, it can be tricky to stay connected in the present. We are faced with a flood of information, whether in the form of news, television programmes, app notifications or messages from friends heralded by our buzzing smartphones. While being more connected than ever does have its benefits, it can also leave us aching for a quiet moment to ourselves.

It’s not the being calm itself that is difficult,
but remembering to slow down.

Should you find yourself stressed because you’ve taken on too much or your day has veered off course, taking a moment to gather your thoughts can be hugely beneficial for your state of mind. Opting to stay calm is a mindful act; a choice to be present and aware.

The best thing about adding mindful moments into your day is that over time, you will form a new habit. What’s more, it doesn’t have to mean retreating to a dark room to recite rounds of ‘om’. It can be as simple as you like and adapted around your routine so that it becomes as much a part of the day as the school run or boiling the kettle.

Just breathe

Paying attention to the breath is one of the simplest ways to introduce calm when your mind is racing. A round of deep breaths instantly slows the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the fight or flight response.

Set an alarm on your phone or computer for a time when you know you might be feeling swamped, like returning after lunch to a full inbox. Choose a calming tone – a bell or singing birds – to sound the alarm, and to differentiate it from the beeps of notifications. When the alarm chimes, inhale deeply for at least four breaths to relieve tension. As you breathe in, become aware of the sensations in your body. Exhale for four beats. Repeat regularly.

Listen deeply

Instead of focusing on your noisy thoughts, try concentrating on the sounds in your surroundings. Pay attention to whatever you can hear, noticing chirping birds or the white noise of the washing machine. Awakening this sense will lead you to notice the beauty in the present, in all its fullness.

Slowly does it

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can help to tackle each item on your to-do list in a conscious way by ‘mono-tasking’. Say to yourself: “I’m going to do the washing-up for 10 minutes” or “I’ll answer emails for 15 minutes”. This can bring order to what might seem like a never-ending list.

Go with the green

Spending time in nature relaxes the mind and body. Research has proven that just being among trees lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body and can have beneficial effects on blood pressure and heart rate. You don’t need to trek to your nearest forest to reap the benefits, either. Watering the plants or sipping your morning coffee outside can be just as soothing.

 

The art of calm

Use your imagination

Visualisation may sound a little out there if you’ve never tried it, but it can be a fantastic way to reduce stress. It is the practice of imagining yourself in a safe, peaceful state, in a place that makes you feel relaxed. The human mind is astonishingly powerful, and by visualising tranquillity you will start to invoke calming feelings in the body, relieving tension.

The power of visualisation has been backed by science as studies have found that the mere act of imagining creates new neural pathways. Set a 1-minute timer and imagine yourself in a place that makes you feel serene. Repeat throughout the day for best results.

Savour suppertime

Ever find yourself wolfing down dinner without really focusing on what you’re eating? Mealtimes, given how routinely they occur, offer a superb opportunity to practise slowing down. Switch off autopilot and take your time noticing the texture, flavours and aromas of your meal. Eating more slowly will also do wonders for your digestion.

Give yourself permission…

…to embrace imperfection. So much of the pressure we heap on ourselves is about reaching unattainable standards of perfection. You might be surprised to find there’s joy in the not-quite-perfect. The Japanese have a word for this – wabi-sabi – which realises that the only constants in life are the three ‘i’s: impermanence, imperfection and incompleteness.

Once we realise that nothing lasts and nothing can ever be perfect or ‘finished’, ourselves included, we free up our minds to focus on the present. And in so doing, adopting the art of calm suddenly feels much more achievable!

 

Emily Davenport
Emily Davenport

I post a blog every week featuring food, family and fun. There are lots of useful household tips, crafty ideas, giveaways and delicious recipes that I think you will find irresistible.

Recipe of the Week: Lemon Meringue Cloud Cake

Lemon Meringue Cloud Cake

Recipes that bring a little joy are order of the day at the moment and this is certainly one of them.

When testing recipes prior to publication our tester baked this for a 90th birthday celebration and it went down a storm.

Lemon meringue, combined with cake – what’s not to love?

Lemon Meringue Cloud Cake

recipe

 

 

Dairy Diary 2021 with stickersThis recipe is taken from the 2021 Dairy Diary.

If Father Christmas forgot to leave a diary this year, don’t worry we still have a few left.

Just click here to buy.

 

 

 

 

 

Emily Davenport
Emily Davenport

I post a blog every week featuring food, family and fun. There are lots of useful household tips, crafty ideas, giveaways and delicious recipes that I think you will find irresistible.

Read more on the 

6 Positive New Year’s Resolutions

Hike for health

2020 has certainly been a year to remember, and it has affected every one of us in many different ways

 

Rather than deprive ourselves of things in 2021, here I’ve written a list of six ideas for mood-boosting resolutions; suggestions to lift the spirits.

1. Cherish memories

Memories are one of the most precious things we have – find old photos that remind you of happy times and make an album or upload pics to a printing website and create a photo book (I did this during lockdown and sent them to my closest friends, who I’ve missed so much over the past year).
     Or you could choose your favourite images and order canvases to hang on your wall. This photograph was taken on one of our favourite walks in Gower, where we holiday most years.
     YouTube is a great place to keep family videos. You can keep your account private and just share it with friends and family. We have been watching films from when the children were tiny (one’s now a teenager). They guarantee a smile and a giggle – they grow up too fast!
Cherish memories

2. Be creative

Making something lovely gives such a sense of achievement; even more so if you give it to someone else to love. Find your ‘niche’ and revel in your creative abilities – everyone has a talent. It could be baking something gorgeous, sewing, knitting, painting, calligraphy, photography – the list is endless. I studied printmaking at university and have recently come back to it after years being too busy with young children. Printing my own Christmas cards was a really rewarding experience and reminded me how much I love the craft.
Be creative

3. Expand your culinary horizons

Sometimes we can get stuck in a rut, cooking the same meals week-in, week-out; choose a different cookbook each week to try one or two recipes from (take a look at the range of cookbooks we have available). Or give yourself the challenge of cooking the weekly recipe from your Dairy Diary each and every week!

4. Bake bread

It doesn’t have to be a fancy loaf – simply buy some bread flour and follow the recipe on the packet. The method of mixing and kneading – and of course enjoying the final result – is incredibly therapeutic.

5. Play a game

It’s easy to settle into a mundane routine; doing the same thing every day. Instead of watching tv one evening, play a card game or aboard game. In our house, we love the old favourites but have also discovered some great newer games recently too. The Genius Square is fun for all ages (and can get quite competitive too!)
Yoga for positivity

6. Enjoy feel-good exercise

Get those endorphins flowing with exercise. It has to be something you enjoy, or you’ll never stick to it. I’ve recently discovered Box Fit, which I LOVE; once an alien concept for anything fitness-related. It could be hiking or yoga, Zumba or swimming, anything that makes you smile while you’re doing it, and gives you that fuzzy afterglow. There may be times when lockdown pauses the possibility, just take it up again when it’s allowed.

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Emily Davenport
Emily Davenport

I post a blog every week featuring food, family and fun. There are lots of useful household tips, crafty ideas, giveaways and delicious recipes that I think you will find irresistible.

Perfect New Year Nibbles: Medjool Dates with Feta

Medjool Dates with Feta

New Year’s Eve is bound to be an intimate affair with the restrictions this year, but that doesn’t mean there’s no reason to celebrate.

 

In fact, toasting in the New Year will be more poignant than ever this year.

Buy in your favourite tipple, get out your favourite glassware and crockery (you could even get glammed up for a Zoom call) and serve scrumptious nibbles like these gorgeous dates stuffed with Feta cheese.

Medjool Dates with Feta

recipe

 


 

Dairy Diary 2021Dairy Diary is packed with gorgeous recipes like this one, as well as fascinating features and lots of space to write.

If you weren’t lucky enough to find one in your stocking this year don’t worry, you can still buy now.

BUY NOW

 

 

 

Emily Davenport
Emily Davenport

I post a blog every week featuring food, family and fun. There are lots of useful household tips, crafty ideas, giveaways and delicious recipes that I think you will find irresistible.

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