Category Archives: Eucalypts

Leafy bundles

First there was a walk home from a distant railway station.  Cotinus (smoke bush) growing through a fence….

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Then there was a walk home from a bus stop on a major road further from home than the one I usually use.  And the amazing discovery of a HUGE maple with finely ferny leaves.  Hanging over a high fence.

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Well. It was only a matter of time… a recycled linen shirt and a wool scarf…2016-11-04-15-43-06

A couple of bundles…

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I love the transformation!

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Some of the maple leaves came out pale. 2016-11-05-12-54-27

Those closest to the iron at the centre of the bundle…

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Perhaps I chose the wrong side of the cotinus as the one likely to give colour, because…

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And the scarf, mmmm!

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This one is destined to become a birthday gift.

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Filed under Eucalypts, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

Winter wardrobe: from white to wow!

Before I went to Mansfield (… a year ago!) I cut out a long sleeved knit top.  The last one I made, a few years back, was nibbled by moths before I even sewed it together, so this one has been safely in a ziplock bag for its quiet year in pieces.IMAG2026

In the end, it took me only an evening to sew it together.  Why did I wait so long? Last time, I had a lot of trouble with this top and hand finished a lot of it, hand inserting the zipper and hand sewing the hems. I think I was a bit intimidated by the job, sorry to admit.  This time it all came together on the machine although the zipper is not lying terribly flat.

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Next morning, I was out in search of dye plants and visited one of my favourites (E Scoparia). The whole time I was collecting leaves I could hear clicking and popping sounds.  Eventually I realised there was a rosella (maybe more than one) very high up–more than 10 metres up) in the sugar gums on the other side of the street, nibbling on the gumnuts and then letting them fall onto the surface of the road (so that was beak clicking and the popping sound of gumnuts dropping on the hard surface)!

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There has been so much wind and rain I hardly needed to cut anything from this tree.  I have learned enough to be able to pick the leaves of this tree out from all the others in the gutter (which I could not always do dependably in the past–I have learned some things!)IMAG2039

Deciding how to fold and wrap is always intriguing…

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In the end I decided to dye a woven wool scarf at the same time. I spent time with a friend I don’t see very often recently and thought I might send her a gift. This will be part of it if it turns out well enough! I tucked some more leaves from my stash of dried leaves into the dye bath.

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I love the transformation… and wish I could be more patient…

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And I love the outcome!  Here is the front…

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Here is the back… (the zipper looks pallid now but it was what I had, recycled and saved).

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This has motivated me to make another, as my stock of winter warm work clothes is becoming pilled and threadbare, and I’ve had some lovely encouragement from friends lately.  Sometimes I think it is a shame I can’t get away with just wearing the same thing every day, as my tendency is clearly to make the same thing over and over again…

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Filed under Eucalypts, Natural dyeing, Neighbourhood pleasures, Sewing

Last of the autumn guerilla plantings

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I got home from a work a little early thanks to a lift from a friend, and decided to get out into the neighbourhood while it was still light.

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Saltbush going in beside the tram bridge and bike path.

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Wattles and more saltbush going in on the other side of the tram bridge in a particularly desolate patch as the light fades.

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I came home with one bucket full of empty pots, gloves and rubbish, and the other full of fallen leaves.

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Just enough time to plant beetroot in the back garden and admire the lemon scented gum over the back fence.

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Filed under Eucalypts, Neighbourhood pleasures

This week in guerilla gardening

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This morning, I went out with some saltbush I’ve grown from seed and some other plants a friend has grown and given me for guerilla gardening.  She comes from a coastal area and is growing plants well adapted (and mostly endemic) to her local sandy soils.  They are thriving in sandy areas of our suburb.  So the saltbush went in under a large river red gum in our neighbourhood, the better to protect the root zone of this giant tree.  Then I trundled around to a spot in the neighbourhood where the pattern of what will grow is very different to the rest of the patches I’m working, partly because the new beds created here in the wake of major infrastructure works are very sandy.

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In went several of these native hibiscus, an olearia, a kangaroo apple and a rhagodia (seaberry saltbush).  Out came weeds, alive and dead, and feral tree seedlings.

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The tiny E Scoparias that my friends and I planted months ago are thriving here but still small.  The council has planted a random eucalypt and a Manchurian Pear since we put them in, and they were much bigger–but they left the E Scoparias to live, bless them.  Let’s see how it goes.

Where previously nothing grew, now there are a lot of boobiallas (myoporum), some good sized olearias, a few saltbush and a couple of feijoas as well as the trees.  One saltbush is loving it here and has set fruit.

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As I finished watering the new plants in and set off to weed invasive grass out of a very successful patch nearby, one of the cyclists whizzing past called out ‘good work!’  It was a good way to start the day: kneeling in the earth and planting things that might help it heal.

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Filed under Eucalypts, Neighbourhood pleasures

Summer festival of mending 3

I have a rather lovely woollen blanket that came to me from a op shop (thrift shop) years ago.  It came with a lot of little holes that haven’t stopped it being a great warm blanket.

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I have had it in mind to mend them or embellish them for years.  This time I have actually done a little mending.

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I even blanket stitched some of the unravelled edges.

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Well.  Someone enjoys it!  She is a visitor who spent some weeks with us but has now been on a road trip to her new home in Tasmania with her usual people.

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It did seem funny to be mending a woollen blanket when we are verging on summer… I give you a local eucalypt in full bloom!

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Filed under Eucalypts, Sewing

Birthday gift

It came to my notice that a niece who was shortly to visit us also has a birthday approaching. I put on the dye pot.

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I went out to visit a favourite tree.

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I had ordered the scarves with this kind of occurrence in mind, so I pulled one out and pulled out the new silk thread as well.

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In they went (and so did the stems that were left from the leaves I’d used)!

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The transformation is always amazing in the dye pot.

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But the contents are even better fun!

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Shown here wet from the dye bath…

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And here hung out to dry.

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Yes, she does like it….! And we took her out on a walk to see the tree that contributed its glory to her gift.

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

Beloved trees

My very local tree loving friends and I have had a plan for a little while to plant more trees around here, and we decided to plant E Scoparia.  An opportunity came to buy some, so my friends bought some, and they were on special for $1 each!

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We took them, and some saltbush and boobialla… and even parsley.

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While we were out planting, and singing the tree planting blessing, this little banner went back onto its tree.

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It had been home for a wash and reapplication of string. It had fallen down or been pulled down.

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It is a huge tree!

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One of us had to climb it.

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When it was all over there was another shared lunch (I am blessed with generous friends!) and chicken happiness, and bit less rubbish in the neighbourhood.

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Filed under Craftivism, Eucalypts, Neighbourhood pleasures

Bundle of beautification

I am still thinking about the difference between my toleration of ugly but functional things–and observing friends and companions at Tin Can Bay who instead, make everything within reach more beautiful. I have a perfectly functional merino underlayer that is a fairly ordinary shade of mauve, and as I wear it every week at this time of year, I have had it in contemplation.  I finally decided that the time had come, only to find a little ladder.  That was quickly mended with logwood dyed thread.  This picture gives a fair sense of the colour of the garment.

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I have mended this top quite a bit due to the monster season of m*th activity a year or two back.  The darns are in various colours, some quite tasteful.  These ones are still pale blue and pale purple, as they were after early washfastness testing in 2013.  I dyed these threads with plum pine.

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Others are a lot more random!

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Having darned over breakfast, I set out to plant boobialla and saltbush, with a plan about collecting dyestuffs.

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I feel sorry fr these plants going into such sad looking land…

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But I have not lost a single plant in this patch and if they all grow it will make such a difference.  Those that went in a few months ago are much bigger already.  Someone stopped as I planted and said ‘You are such a good public person!’

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Plants in, weeding done, I headed out to this E Scoparia.  It’s a beauty with particularly slender leaves. The people whose fence it overhangs don’t like it tickling their hair as they pass and resent it hanging over their fence.  So hard to understand!  I selectively cut to minimise their struggle with it when I want to use this plant. I make it shorter over the footpath and then trim the lowest hanging parts over their fence.

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Home again, home again!

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The tree is in flower, but the flowers are small.  Love those pliable red stems.

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I settled on a pot full of dried E Cinerea leaves.  This rainwater tank finally has rain in it again.

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Then for the bundling part…  I always think I’ll be neater this time, and then make the usual scruffy bundle.

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Some time later, the leaves have  had  a head start and in goes the bundle.

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Well, I think this is an improvement!  Here is the front.  The logwood didn’t really survive the dye pot very well, which works. The eucalyptus dyed threads have stayed their previous colours, but now blend in. The indigo dyed thread is still blue!

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And this is the back.  No regrets from me!

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Filed under Eucalypts, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

Whimsically cabled socks

Socks take a little while to knit.  Maybe 20 hours or more of knitting for a pair in 4 ply (fingering).  To be honest, I’m not sure.  Needless to say, I don’t sit down and time myself knitting them. I don’t knit them on a whim, they way I do hats, which just sit about waiting for the right head to come by.  I want them to be well received and they need to fit in more senses than one.  So, a little while back, there was a tracing of the foot.  Then I checked the preferences of the intended recipient, ordered BFL/silk sock yarn, and dyed it with eucalyptus.  To get a good strong colour, I dyed the 100g of yarn in four dye baths.  These socks have travelled, because in those hours of knitting, socks-in-the-making are my constant companions, which is one of the lovely things about them.  I enjoy the knitting, and I enjoy holding the intended recipient in my mind for the time the knitting takes. Here is the first sock, and that week’s reading for theory reading group.

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They came with me to hospital to visit a complicated relative who had a near death experience, twice (she is still alive).  They may not have brought her comfort but they brought me comfort.  The second hospital visit was so dim I did something quite inappropriate and had to rip back a bit.  They have been to some high level meetings.  They came to a very informal meeting with a workmate which was interrupted by another knitter (otherwise, a total stranger) who was beside herself to see socks being knit right there in front of her eyes.  My workmate is a generous man who didn’t flinch!  I have walked along knitting them from my bag.  They have been fondled lovingly by the odd stranger.  I was getting to the heel of the second sock when I went to Sydney.  Here we are in a cafe reading political theory (with relish).

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In front of a sculpture at a university in Sydney where I attended part of a conference where my beloved did a wonderful job of presenting.

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In a hotel room with a banksia cone.

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Waiting for a bus outside central railway station in Sydney.  Ask not what the other people waiting thought of my photographing a sock.  There is a lot going on outside Central at night and no one blinked.

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Almost done at Coogee Beach.

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Maybe you wanted to see Coogee beach?  Glorious!

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Toe grafted and ends darned in, in the Sydney airport.

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Here they are in better light after a nice steam press!

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I hope that they will be snug and long lasting… (non knitters: that is a reinforcing heel stitch you see there).

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And I hope that the whimsy of these cables will tickle India‘s fancy the way it tickles mine!  This design was suggested by one of my nearest and dearest, who first told me about India’s work years before I first saw it.  He was the first to have a whimsically cabled pair of socks made by me… and now there are two such pairs!  It is an absolute delight to be able to turn the generosity back toward someone who has been so exceedingly generous to me.

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Filed under Eucalypts, Knitting, Natural dyeing

Winter dyeing

I had some rather pallid silk embroidery thread. That bag it is sitting on came from an op shop and has been through eucalyptus dye pots so many times it is a very deep shade now!

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I had some white and tan polwarth fleece.

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Eucalyptus cinerea leaves… I have sacks of them and decided it was time to get them moving!

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With wool going in a bit later…

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Then a gift of E Nicholii leavea arrived from a fried whose keen eye and quick wits diverted council prunings from going directly to mulch.  Thanks!

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Here they are after some serious cooking.

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My tour of the dye stash also uncovered these, sitting in a bag I used to use for gleaning the neighbourhood.  Perhaps I could use it again if it wasn’t storing these leaves…

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I thought I remembered them being unexciting.  They are clearly ironbark leaves, but presumably I confused my ironbarks.  I wasn’t sure and decided to try them out.

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There has also been E Scoparia bark dyeing.

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And here we have, fresh from the dye bath (a day later): E Nicholii at the top left; the unexciting ironbark, and E Scoparia bark at the bottom.

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Later still, some of that polwarth fleece sitting on the piano like a fluffy flame…

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First pass through the carder…

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Second pass… ready to spin!

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And now I have some thread with a bit more colour in it, too!

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Filed under Eucalypts, Fibre preparation, Natural dyeing