Eucalyptus cladocalyx

Sugar gum, l’eucalyptus de sucre, Zuckereukalytpus, eucalipto de azúcar, an cladocalyx1eoclaip siúcra

Impressive is just one word I’d use to describe the sugar gum: tall, thick, smooth, glaucous, striking… I’ve never knowingly seen a young specimen; all the ones I know are very tall with distinct markings on the trunk. Impressive…

Our local specimens have never shed many leaves, although I did manage to gather a couple of handfuls this week. One specimen has some low-growing foliage, but I can’t excuse pruning it for the sake of the dyepot. Dictated by the current season, there is however a significant amount of fallen bark to be had, so bark it was (aided by a handful of the leaves as mordant).

cladocalyx2As with the E. sideroxylon experiment, the bark was soaked for a day, then simmered for 45 mins. The water turned from apricot-brown to deep brown-red. I could tell I’d get some colour, even if it weren’t a striking red. After straining, the woollen yarn was simmered for 45 mins and then rinsed in cold water straight away. Why? Why not.

cladocalyx3The result was a pleasing medium-darkish honey-brown (a bit brighter than in the pic), and worthy of repetition. I’ll be trying this one on tencel, too. Why so many browns lately? This isn’t a common colour in commercial yarns, and I need a certain shade of tencel to complete a project. Moreover, the experiment per se is fun – what other reason could you possibly need?

 

Eucalyptus sideroxylon

Ironbark, mugga, écorce de fer, Mugga-Eukalyptus, corteza de hierro, Coirt iarainn

As per the previous post, ironbark leaves aren’t as plentiful this year, or at least the ones within easy reach. What about the bark, etc?

Sideroxylon bark2

I once soaked a fair amount of kino/manna/resin collected from numerous local gums for a week (a significantly shorter period of time than what it had taken to collect), simmered some yarn… and came up with not much. Another experiment with the bark had produced a similar result. What went wrong? No leaves to act as mordant!! (note to self: Duh!).

There is plenty of bark to be collected locally, and if you can’t find it on the ground, there may be some hanging off the trunk, ready to drop without harming the tree. Apparently the name comes from the hardness of the wood; I naturally thought it was because the bark looked rusty…

A good layer on the bottom of the pot was soaked overnight, then simmered for about an hour with a handful of E. leucoxylon leaves for the tannin (as a mordant). Why leucoxylon? Because I have plenty at present (see post below).

Sideroxylon liquor2The dye liquor colours up quickly and is a deep, reddish black. An hour’s simmering, then a straining followed by a sieving (lots of small bits…) and it was ready for the yarn: a skein of 8-ply (bottom, left), followed by one of 2-ply that had been mordanted with alum/CoT as a precaution (bottom, right). As you can see, no mordanting was necessary, but produced a slight greenish tinge on the 2-ply (inside, it looks more golden, so let’s go for old gold/nut-brown butter). The 8-ply – denser and softer –  came out a mid-chestnut brown. The colours in the pic are a little richer than in real life.

Sideroxylon yarn2The liquor was still darker than dark, so another two skeins of the 2-ply were dyed individually. The first (top, left) came out a paler brown with a reddish tinge after an immediate wash; the second was left in the liquor overnight, producing a richer colour all round.

None of the colours match any brown sheep I’ve spun, or alpaca, so worthwhile results for all the work. Now to try with vinegar to get more red…

Eucalyptus leucoxylon

 

Blue gum, Eucalyptus bleu, Weiße Gummi-Eukalyptus, Eucalipto azul, Eoclaip gorm

(re the German name: another English name is White ironbark)

The local council had trimmed back the Eucalyptus sideroxylon trees for the first time in about ten years, or rather had trimmed them back noticeably. These were going to be the source of material for an international project (more about that in a future post), so it was down to Plan B, then Plan C…

A branch of what appears to be E. leucoxylon had come down recently (gum trees drop Windfall1branches due to drought or a sudden uptake of water when the rain comes after a period of dry; this year the weather is so up-and-down that I can’t give the exact reason, which sometimes a gum doesn’t need…) and it’s still at the side of the road, though there’s less of it.

Windfall2After driving past it once, I went back with pocket saw, secateurs and large bucket, then went back again for seconds. How much did I manage to harvest? Compare the ‘before’ and ‘after’ picsPossum

I had to include a pic of what was sheltering behind the dyepots in the shed. When I first noticed it, staring at me as I went to take the pot, I can’t remember what I yelled, but it was something along the lines of, “Agggghhhhh!!!” Just surprised, that’s all. Judging by the size of it, I think this may be the one that was sitting in the garden one evening, enjoying the plums and looking very much the size of a wallaby (for overseas readers, it’s a possum, and a VERY large one). Nice fur.

dyepot

Windfall3

Back to the dye… I just grabbed about four handfuls (more like layers as they’d been squashed down a bit in the bucket) and simmered for 45 or so mins, then added unmordanted yarn: 8-ply Bendigo Mills Luxury – the chosen yarn for the project. I wasn’t expecting a great result, but it has come out a rather pleasant butterscotch, and one that should go well in the finished item.

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).

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

table1

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.