Tag Archives: brown

Ply time!

A while back I had used almost every bobbin I own, each with a different colour of thread on it.


Over time there were even more bobbins of singles than this pictures shows…  finally there has been a season of plying, skeining and washing, and now I have this pile instead.

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Logwood purples, purple-greys and purple-browns, a cochineal pink (and a cochineal-logwood exhaust), three indigo blues, two madder exhaust-oranges, and a coreopsis exhaust yellow.  I didn’t take good enough notes of the fibres–some are on merino roving (the madder), some on polwarth, some on grey corriedale. Maybe there is a little of Malcolm the Corriedale in there too!

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And there has been even more bee swarm action in the neighbourhood.  These bees have taken up residence on a rainwater tank, with some support from a ladder! And… I am so over tending the silkworms 🙂


Filed under Natural dyeing, Spinning

Dyes of antiquity: Walnut hulls


When these walnut hulls came home from the Guild hall with me, who knows how long they had been stored?  I can only give an educated guess to the time involved in separating them from the walnuts… or the year in which that might have happened.  In the meantime, insects had become involved… so I put them in water and put a lid on and left them to steep in mid to late May 2014.  As you may remember, I decided I should honour the effort involved in all that dye gathering and storage… and so over a month later, a dye vat emerged…

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The stinkiness of which was unholy.  It may become a legend in my Guild.  But not in a good way!  The dye that emerged was inky and impressive.  I rather wish I had saved some to try using it as ink, but in all honesty I didn’t have that thought on the day… my nostrils said ‘begone!’.  The dark brown skeins in the foreground are walnut.

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And here is my sample card.

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Interestingly, the walnut dyes, together with every dye I have tried on both hot and cold processed mordants so far, show cold processed alum as the most obviously effective mordant, with hot processed alum coming second.  The cold processed sample is noticeably darker than all other samples.  My eye cannot detect a difference between the hot and cold processed rhubarb leaf mordant samples.  In this case, I expected that since I used an overwhelming quantity of rhubarb leaf, achieving a dye effect and not just a mordanting… that these samples would be a stronger shade of brown.  I can’t detect a difference between the rhubarb leaf mordanted samples and the no mordant sample.  So far, I have to concur (sadly) with Pia at Colour Cottage in finding that rhubarb leaf is not terribly effective as a mordant, at least in the ways I have applied and used it.  I have enough mordanted yarn to continue experimenting for some time to come…




Filed under Fibre preparation, Natural dyeing

Eucalyptus Polyanthemos

I’ve been curious about E Polyanthemos for ages.  I saw one on a tour of the Currency Creek Eucalyptus arboretum years back and I had already heard it was a good dye plant.  I am guessing it is mentioned in Eco-Colour.  It has been on my mental list for quite some time.  So when I found one that had been identified by a more knowledgeable person recently, I paid a lot of attention.

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I think the two trees I have been holding in mind as potential examples of E Polyanthmos might actually be E Polyanthemos on the basis of this sighting.

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It’s a lovely tree–those wide grey green leaves are truly lovely.  Evidently, they are also delicious, because this one was covered in leaves that had been nibbled by some kind of insect.

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This tiny sample went into my dyepot…


And created very interesting prints. It intrigues me that one plant can create such different colours in such close proximity.  I have had wonderful colour from the buds of the other two trees I visit from time to time, and the tree is truly spectacular when in blossom, because the many-anthers its botanical name promises are needless to say held on many flowers which attract many birds.  Ah, the glory of eucalypts!



Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Leaf prints

Unidentified Eucalypt sample of the week

My attention was caught by another eucalypt in the parklands.  It was the colour of the flowers that attracted my interest.  I don’t remember seeing it in flower before.  Something about this purplish shade of pink caught my eye.


The tree itself was rather unprepossessing at a distance.



It seems to be managing to grow despite having survived multiple insults and lost limbs if not its entire primary trunk at some point in the past.




On the other hand, this had clearly created an opportunity: the hollow at the base of the trunk had been chosen as home by bees, who were flying in and out the whole time I was watching (they would be the small blurs in the photo).


I took a small sample and really…  this tree is safe from me.  The alum mordanted sample gave a good brown and the no mordant sample, a pinkish shade of tan.


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Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Natural dyeing

Drive-by dyeing and mending

On my bike ride home from work (about a 40 minute ride), I pass just one Eucalyptus Cinerea. Well, there are two, but one is inside someone’s front garden.  A person has to have some boundaries!  The street tree had dropped a small branch.


I decided I’d better collect it.  Usually I carry a calico bag in my bike pannier for such contingencies, but this was what I found when I scrabbled about in the bottom of my pannier on the day, so in went all the stray leaves I could find.


This tree has had to contend with a lot.  It has had a  very strange pruning job designed to protect the electrical wires that now pass through its branches.  The pruning took out a lot of the canopy, but the tree is still standing.  For this, I am grateful.


Recent events have caused me to reflect on the way I think about trees on my regular routes… like old acquaintances.  I think about them as I pass, the way I think of people when I pass near their homes without visiting.  I notice what happens to them.  I check them over when I have the chance.  I remember how they were when they were younger, or before that accident befell them.  It’s not entirely unlike the way I notice people I don’t know well, but see out and about in the neighbourhood regularly.

Further along, I saw that my “thanks for cycling” bunting had been ripped and some of it was lying on the ground.  Soon it was in my other pannier headed for the mending pile.


A few days later, the E Cinerea made it into the dye pot and produced its usual dependable flamelike orange.  I also collected some ironbark leaves that had fallen in the parklands near where we had exercise class.  Once the E Cinerea was all but exhausted I reused that dyebath with the ironbark leaves, thinking I would save water and energy, but clearly this was not E Sideroxylon–it produced that sad, damp little pile of fawn alpaca on the right.


I have come to regard this as a sign: The orange leaves in the picture below are the E Cinerea leaves, which have gone from silver-grey-green to orange in the dyebath.  The ironbark leaves, on the other hand, have remained a robustly green shade even after cooking.


And, I’ve mended the bunting ready to hang it again on a suitable occasion…



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

Eucalyptus Stricklandii

Eucalyptus Stricklandii is in bloom at the moment.


There are a row of these trees growing along a main road near a friend’s place in the Northern suburbs, and I have admired them each time I’ve visited.  This time I stopped and sampled as well.  I wasn’t the only one. The tree was full of bees, but bees don’t understand about pausing graciously when someone offers to take your picture and make you famous (ahem!) on the web.


There were also fully mature fruit:


And fruit that were nearing maturity:


Buds as well, since this is a eucalypt…


And rather spectacular bark.


Here’s the tree as a whole…


And someone’s tenderly crafted home, fallen to the ground, neatly combining flyscreen wire with vegetation and paper that has been weathered until pliable.


Cocoa and chocolate?  Chestnut and walnut?



Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Natural dyeing

Eucalyptus Rummeryi

A eucalyptus windfall will often get my attention… and never more so than when the tree is one I have never tried and which a more knowledgeable person has labelled for the edification of passersby such as myself.  E Rummeryi is native to NSW but seen here growing in Botanic Park, slim, straight and already tall.




Immature fruit:


In flower, but quite high up and on a breezy day (this is a way of apologising for the quality of the picture)!


Results from a standard dye pot…



Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Natural dyeing

Leaf prints of the week: Pecan and Eucalyptus on cotton

Last week there was some leaf printing. Eucalyptus Scoparia leaves, one of my favourites.


Pecan leaves, inspired by Lotta Helleberg (when I went to her blog to insert this link there was an especially delectable pecan leaf printed fabric on show, by complete coincidence) and by a wonderful lunch with friends who have a pecan tree. The leaves have been patiently waiting in my freezer.


Let me admit right here and now that I had some alum and tannin mordanted fabric which took no colour at all–I must have made some kind of mistake there!


As always, the thrill of seeing good things begin to emerge.


Then waiting to unwrap bundles.  I saved these until I had a friend over for dinner who I realised would enjoy the reveal as much as I do.


Some pecan prints were better than others, but the good ones are lovely.


And the Eucalyptus leaf prints were all I hoped for and more.



Filed under Eucalypts, Fibre preparation, Leaf prints

The never-ending parade of slippers

I have been working on some slippers… with long breaks in between activity… for such a long time! They came of some polwarth fibre that was not promising enough for fine spinning and that I thought would be best rendered into felt.  This is my go-to classic felting pattern, Bev Galeskas’ Fibertrends Clog pattern.  If you’re a regular around here you know by now that I have made many dozens of them.  I still think this pattern is genius… but  I am a little bit over it just at present, personally.  Anyway… some of these pairs had already suffered the indignity of being unsuccessfully dipped into indigo.  Time to try again!  I decided to pre-wet for evenness for once in my life.


Finally, the time came for unnatural dyeing. I have two burners, and four pairs of slippers.  They’re big!  I decided to exhaust the dye and re-use the water on the second round of dyeing, which worked well.  It seemed a perfect opportunity to try this strategy out–after all, I am dyeing over chocolate brown wool for the most part.  Fine details of colour are not of real moment.


Finally, I give you purple over brown, green over brown, red-brown-black (using up the leftovers of dyeing adventures past) and blue over brown.


Sadly I’ll not be able to hand them over in person but I can’t bear to make my friends wait any longer!  We have had unseasonably cold weather here of late, and credibility on the question of whether they will ever see these slippers must be stretched to a very fine thread already!  So I am going to give them to a mutual friend who I am hoping will be happy to drop them in to warm chilly toes at the next opportunity.

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Filed under Knitting, Spinning

Just in time for summer!

Sometimes people ask me how I manage to fit so many things in… but I am not sure they are really keeping track of how long a project might take me from start to finish!  Many craft projects at my place involve large numbers of tiny steps.  Sometimes it is the nature of the crafts involved and sometimes it’s the only way I can figure out to make things happen.  So projects progress slowly at times, as whim, interest, the right weather, or the availability of time permit.  Today I can report that a couple of items reached the out spout.

The eucalyptus dyed grey corriedale which started here and continued here has finally come to an end, with every last bit now converted to yarn.  The middle skein is chain-plied (and to be honest, I really do prefer this yarn over the one I have created for my cardigan) and the one at the bottom is a true 3 ply.  Some of this yarn is destined to become a cardigan, but it will not be for winter 2013, which is over now for us here in Australia.


I have also finally finished making a jumper for my fairy godson. He is a tall and slender individual (just in case you’re wondering if the proportions are right), and if he’s lucky there will be one or two days cold enough to wear this jumper before winter 2014.  I hope it will still fit him then!  It was slowed down by misjudgment of the amount of yarn needed, and thus several stages of dyeing and spinning as knitting progressed, breaking all the rules of good handspun-handknit practise.  It is 3 ply eucalyptus dyed alpaca in 4ply/fingering weight.


Here it is, tied up with handmade string crafted from the leaves of our daylily.  When it was raining this morning I decided to steam press it and just take it over on my way to work in hopes it might be cold enough to wear it, and was lucky enough to catch my friends at home.  It never fails to gladden my heart to give a gift that is really warmly welcomed… but it is an additional exquisite pleasure to find the handmade string to be just about as exciting as the jumper to its recipient.  It fills life with pleasure to find folk who feel just as intrigued by string from the backyard as  you do, and just as curious about how it could be made.

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Someone who works in the same hallway as me exclaimed over my looking happy at work on a Monday, just as I walked in this morning… and may not have understood if I’d said it was all about late but welcome presents and homemade string and love.  Sometimes you have to be there.


Filed under Eucalypts, Knitting, Natural dyeing, Neighbourhood pleasures, Spinning