Monthly Archives: October 2013

Local windfalls 2

I went for a walk the other day after more gale force winds.  The wind had been so impressive I watched every piece of mulch in our backyard become airborne the previous evening!  I took my trusty secateurs and a calico bag with me.

My first candidate (for the dye pot) is a tree my father calls Queensland Box.  Wikipedia suggests my father is right, and also that this tree is widely cultivated outside Australia.  It is Lophestemon Confertus–and its flower is just lovely (go to Wilkipedia if you’d like to see it–they are not in flower here right now).  The trunks peel to a lovely burnt orange but at present this process has barely begun.


They are widely planted as street trees here.

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And they certainly are fruiting, with two generations of seed pods on show at present among glossy leaves.


Two generations of fruit is one thing. Dye pot candidate two had four generations on show.  This eucalypt has been pruned ruthlessly but shows mostly smooth bark with rough, peeling bark near the base.  My best guess is E Macrandra (River Yate)–but this really is a guess.


Now for the reproductive material! I think this is a ‘flattened, strap like peduncle’ as constantly referred to in my reference works. Those tiny ‘fingers’ are buds.


Here the buds are again, a lot further along, in the second generation:


Immature fruit:


Still immature but older fruit:


Finally, I came past a stand of ironbarks where I often collect after wind, and collected my third candidate.  It’s a mixed stand from which I sometimes get good colour and sometimes very little.  Three dye pots full waiting their turn on the hob…


The results were not tremendously exciting… different shades of tan and pale apricot from the eucalypts (clearly the ironbark was not E Sideroxylon). I have to confess that I forgot to photograph these unexciting outcomes before overdyeing them with E Cinerea.  The Queensland Box showed its capacity to give tan in the presence of alum, especially.  The samples are (from left to right) wool, wool+alum, silk and cotton.


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Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Natural dyeing, Neighbourhood pleasures

Silkworms: 3 week update

This week’s update is a little late… But the silkworms grew hugely. Many shed their skins and moved on to the next stage of life.


There are so many I took about 50 to the guild yesterday and they went to happy homes!


I have expanded their accommodation and my hunt for mulberry leaves, and between our house guests and my beloved, they are getting an enormous amount of attention and concern for their wellbeing. But they seem to be doing well!



Filed under Fibre preparation

How diverting!

Experiments in diverting textile waste from the rubbish bin or compost continue… The lavender wool and the entirely waste batt are all spun up.  In the end, I plied the trash batt with a single of the lavender wool.  I can’t say I expected loveliness, and to my mind this is not lovely. As for the spinning experience: it was fine to spin though my lack of foresight about a plying strategy wasn’t ideal and I didn’t think a chain 3 ply would work.  I also have to say that even with a  generous apron under my drafting zone, this yarn shed loads of pieces of chopped thread at every stage, which didn’t make me popular with my beloved.


These yarns are destoned for yarnbomb glory.  I knit then into K2P2 ribbing and will apply them when I’ve chosen a suitable spot and the rain and wind abate!


On the other hand, here is a corespun yarn made from the batt composed of white polwarth locks, eucalyptus dyed corriedale carding waste and overlocker waste (much of it from leaf printed fabrics).  I like this very much. I think the ratio of polwarth to other inclusions is part of what works, but so is the texture of the polwarth–it helps hold everything together.  The happy combination of colours doesn’t go astray either…



Filed under Knitting, Spinning

Neighbourhood windfalls 1

We’ve had gale force winds here lately.  One morning about a week ago, 40% of my city had no power when we woke up (we were happily still connected to the grid).  Needless to say, this has led to windfalls, and I was still collecting them yesterday as further gale force winds began a week later.

The first windfall was an ironbark.  Guessing from its location (a stand of three ironbarks) and the gumnuts still intact, I think it is E Tricarpa. Sadly, just as unremarkable as a dye plant, as the last time I tried!


I have not managed to identify this tree, partly because it branches metres above ground level.  Even with so much of its canopy on the ground, I didn’t find a single bud, flower or fruit to help me identify it.  The trunk is rough and pale. The whole tree is difficult to capture in a photo, especially on such a gloomy day.  It must be at least 20 metres tall.


It seems to be under attack from some kind of scale insect.  Every single leaf was affected. Here it is after some hours in hot water–suggestive of a beige outcome….


Compare my third windfall.  This is a tree that has been cut to accommodate cars parking beside it, in the car park of a recreation area.  I haven’t been sure whether it was E Scoparia, E Camaldulensis, or some other unknown eucalypt.  Both E Scoparia and E Camaldulensis have similar shaped and sized leaves, small fruit and both can have pale, smooth trunks (but this trunk looks more E Camaldulensis to my admittedly self-trained eye).  The branch that fell to the ground had an uncharacteristically large number of fruit on it for E Scoparia.  On the other hand, the clusters of seven fruit with 3 valves apiece made me think it might be E Scoparia after all.  So did the colour of the dye bath, though the leaves did not turn orange the way E Scoparia usually does.

In spite of the colour of that dye bath, the result says that this is not E Scoparia, and the 3 valves say that it isn’t E Camaldulensis either (4 valves).  Even with vinegar to help bring out whatever orange or red might be there to be had, and still damp from the dyebath… the 3 valved tree is at the top (brown-beige?) and the 20 metre tall tree is at the bottom (caramel-beige).


Here are the results of a bath with a fallen branch from an actual E Scoparia, downed in the same windy night.  They’re the red and orange samples, with the E Tricarpa for contrast.



Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Natural dyeing