Eucalyptus shawl

euc shawl 1Dolly’s second outing on the same day was to model a shawl. Before I go any further, I should point out that this is not some weird fetish; the model is named after a real-life character from childhood visits to my grandparents’ in Battersea. No resemblance other than the name.

The pattern is Alina Appasova’s Pinwheels Lace Shawl on Ravelry, and the yarn is handspun Finn x English Leicester. The fleece had so many different qualities of wool, and typically instead of spreading the fleece and separating them, I flicked and spun several locks at a time before moving on to a different location in the bag. The pattern and the yarn gave a springy, lacy knit that holds its shape and is definitely for cold season wear.

The yarn was dyed with Eucalyptus cinerea, sideroxylon, nicholii, amplifolia (the latter overdyed – euc shawl2see post below), and some of these blended. I had no idea how the colours would go together, and how I would achieve this, so in the end just went for knitting to the pattern until one ball ran out and choosing another, going down the scale from red to brown, dark to light, and finishing with darker and redder again. It worked.

This was given to the same recipient as the Wuthering Heights scarf, but as a birthday present in advance (to make up for the other one being late).

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Eucalyptus amplifolia

The only specimen of E. amplifolia (ssp. amplifolia) I could find was a rather tall tree with branches high up and all fresh leaves out of reach. There were however plenty of dead leaves on the ground that hadn’t started to rot, so I scooped these up and went home with a bag full.

I simmered the leaves for a while, with a E amplifolia1small skein (a tie, really) of commercial yarn thrown in (see centre of ball) – this came out a deep brown which was what I had been aiming for after consulting a couple of sources. The next day I added a full skein of handspun, plus two other ties of the commercial, simmered them for well over an hour and waited for the same brown.

As you can see, the handspun came out an uninspiring shade of mustard (I’ve since overdyed it with E. sideroxylon). The two ties, which have gone walkabout, came out two different shades of brick red. Conclusion? That the handspun, although carefully scoured, hadn’t been processed nearly aE amplifolia2s much as the commercial and therefore wasn’t as receptive (porous?). It was also thinner, and translucent.

More recently I repeated the experiment with a second collection of un-rotted leaves of the same tree. The handspun came out of the dyepot in two different shades of honey brown, while the commercial was darker honey, but nowhere near as dark as the first experiment. Maybe the leaves were more rotten than I thought?

I also experimented (some time between the two other lots) with no-/mordant and/or modifier to see if there was much difference.E amplifolia3 Barely noticeable, so not one to repeat when contrast is called for.

There were a couple of small branches on the ground with fresh leaves that the parrots had been at, but not really enough to dye a skein with. Might try some leaf prints with these.

Natural dyeing workshop

After spending some weeks deciding on what exactly we were going to dye with, and then worrying on more than one occasion that the dyes weren’t going to p

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erform, last Saturday’s workshop was full of pleasant surprises…

There were seven participants, all friendly and enthusiastic, and all with interesting tales, information and tips to add to the proceedings. The dyes used were (from bottom to top): hawthorn berries, brown onion skins, red onion skins, Tagetes minuta, dahlia flowers, Tagetes lemonii (dried flowers/heads), Eucalyptus cinerea, E. incognita (yep!) and betel nuts.

I didn’t have time to follow Jenny Dean’s recipe (in Wild Colour) for the haws, so boiled up some leaves and twigs for about 40 minutes to get as much tannin in to the dyepot, then added about a kilo of berries and simmered for three-quarters of an hour, then left overnight. This mixture was strained and reheated for the dyeing experiment. They turned the woolen yarn a shade of light brown that I’d never had before, so that’s one for future ref.

onionsall

The onion skins were amazing! (right to left: brown onions, red onions, Tagetes lemonii). Even though we used a scant 50% wof, the brown ones dyed a deep copper, while the red ones (close-up below) came out dark, khaki green; the unmordanted ties were lime green, and both without trying. Could it have been the copper pipes at the Guild?

A smaller quantity of dahlia heads than I would have liked gave such a deep colour, and onions2redwhen we dipped half (or more) of the skein back in the liquor with bicarb added, well, even better.

I was concerned that as the tagetes flowers were dry, they’d give muted shades of old gold. Lemonmii gave such a deep sunshine gold that at first I thought it was the brown onions, and the minuta heads could have been fresh – the brightness and intensity of the resulting colour is still a source of amazement.

E. cinerea performed to its usual standard, while the other (maybe a type of peppermint gum?) gave a very pale yellow. Still a good shade to have in the line-up.

The betel nuts? These gave a deeper brown than I’ve ever managed before. None of the pinkish hue, mind. They were, as last time, soaked in water and bicarb for a couple of days.

All in all a successful run of experiments and a great bunch of people to work with!

Leaf prints

eucalyptus scarf11A while ago I came back from a local op shop with a number of silk scarves and hankies, and leaf prints and indigo in mind. Then this weekend I managed to get hold of some Eucalyptus nicholii leaves, thanks to the local parrots who are currently “pruning” all the local trees and scattering the contents within easy reach. Nice.

I decided on simple and laid one scarf out on a piece of calico, dropping some leaves onto it as though they’d fallen that way, then eucalyptus scarf02placing another scarf on top and wrapping them up in a small bundle. They were placed in the steamer for around two hours, but I can’t be sure of the exact time.

euc scarf31After cooling slightly, the bundle was unwrapped with a pleasing result. The leaf prints appear slightly darker on one scarf, which was opaque, but one the translucent scarf they add to the blowing-in-the-wind effect rather than looking stationary.

Not bad for a first attempt. I did however notice that the prints in the centre of the bundle were paler (where the steam hadn’t penetrated as much) and the tighter end was a little ruffled. Point to remember for next time: wrap around a bamboo cane of at least 1/2″ diameter and steam for longer.

Native mistletoe

I went to collect some mistletoe – Amyema? – from river red gum (Eucalptus camaldulensis) nearby; I’ve been watching it carefully over the past few months, and the sight of amistletoe pot lorry parked on the last remaining patch of undeveloped land had me heading off with secateurs and collecting bag.

After pruning a few shoots, I noticed there were plenty of dead leaves on the ground, dark brown and crisp. They were surprisingly easy to tell apart from the gum leaves, as they were thicker and more curled in their dry state – and more brittle. I’d soon collected enough for an experiment.

Both fresh and dried leAmyemaaves were given their own pot to soak in overnight. The next morning, the fresh leaves had started to ferment, and there was a waxy film on the surface and the sides of the pot. Simmering for an hour produced no noticeable colour (just an unpleasant smell), so I turned to the dry leaves. The liquor was already a deep brown before cooking, and after an hour the yarn was added. It had already been in a E. sideroxylon dyepot and had only picked up a smidgen of colour. This time, however, the yarn took on a straw colour.

Eucalyptus cinerea

E cinerea1E. cinerea is about the only eucalyptus I’ve had success with in the dyepot. Although many sources advise that a mordant isn’t necessary, I wasn’t going to take any chances: 50:50 alum + CoT to 15% wof it was again. The leaves were dry and had been lying at the side of the house for a few months in the hope that some extra sun would improve the colour. They were placed in the pot along with their twigs, normal tap water as opposed to filtered, and simmered for about an hour. The liquid was a pale apricot colour, as opposed to E. sideroxylon which gives a deep, chocolate-red as E cinerea 2soon as it hits the water.

I persevered, and after straining and adding the yarn the liquid started to change and it was clear I was going to get something interesting. Unfortunately I can’t adjust the colour in the photo to reflect the true shade: a coppery-tomato. Reminds me of a stick of copper wax when I did some brass rubbing years ago.

The second photo is a bit more true; these were a couple of hanks I’d dyed before Christmas, both cinerea.

Not a common tree in nearby suburbs, but definitely worth hunting for and stocking up on the leaves.