Tag Archives: E Incognita

Needle books

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A while back, I managed to find second hand woolen blankets, many of which were partly felted and sold for the warmth of dogs.  I am in favour of the warmth of dogs, but was delighted to take some home.  A couple have gone to the dye table where they insulate dye vats (today there is an indigo vat wrapped up in wool out there in the chilly morning).  This one, though, was a perfectly good blanket, if a little threadbare and dating back at least to the 1960s.  I can’t fit a whole blanket in any of my dye pots, so I had to take scissors to it in order to dye it, and this seems to have been a high barrier to clear.  Clear it, I now have.

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This piece dyed with E Cinerea leaves, (and a little of something else I don’t remember) has become needle books.  I left the edge stitching in position because I like it, then added my own blanket stitches in plant dyed threads. The string is hand twined silk fabric dyed with madder root.  I learned string making from Basketry SA and applying it to fabric rather than leaves from India Flint. She recently posted a video of stringmaking 101 here.  I know someone will ask, and the video is beautiful: it manages to convey the peacefulness of stringmaking somehow.

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One went to my mother.  She is on her way north for some months of warmth and adventure with my Dad (in Australia we call people such as my folks ‘grey nomads’). When they were over for dinner last week, Mum said she would like to take a project.

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She liked one of the projects I have underway and she soon had a version for herself!  I have a little stack of tins I have been saving to make mending kits.  She chose one, chose a needle book, and then I gifted her an indigo dyed bag to stitch on and some embroidery thread to stitch with, and some needles.  I hope she uses her little kit, but even if it was a passing whim, she will enjoy having it with her.  I’ll be keeping her company in some small way. Another needle book and mending kit went to my daughter when she was passing through recently and turned out not to have amending kit (!!)  The other needle books are destined for mending kits.  Their time is sure to come.

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Filed under Basketry, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

Eucalyptus dyeing

In not-so-recent dye baths, I included a wool scarf for a friend.

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I love the way it turned out.  I hope she will too.  I bundled up E Scoparia leaves and some windfalls from a tree I think might be E Nicholii.  It branches (what I mean is it that it has been brutally pruned) very high so these windfalls gave me leaves to try that I otherwise could never reach.

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Love the string resist marks…

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Then I returned to the E Cladocalyx bark I harvested weeks back which has been steeping.

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Calico mordanted in soy and lots of clamping was the choice of the day.

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The wet fabric next day (I know, patience is the dyer’s friend, but my friend was out for the day).

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I do especially love the buds!

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The overall effect… suggesting my fold-and-clamp technique may require more practice!

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

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.

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The tree itself was rather unprepossessing at a distance.

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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.

 

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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).

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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

Sampling eucalypts

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As we drove home from exercise group last Saturday morning, it became clear that a big part of a tree had been cut down beside a warehouse-style business near home.  A big chunk of tree canopy was lying on the footpath.  I didn’t think I had sampled the tree in question, but there are several in that area that look like E Scoparia, but have been pruned to branch very high–out of reach.  There isn’t much hope of my identifying this one–it has no fruit, flowers or buds on it right now, though it does have red twigs and white-barked branches and leaves the right shape for E Scoparia.   I have had some success with leaves from the gutters on that street, but not right where these branches were lying.  I went back and applied my secateurs.

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To my sadness when I actually stopped I could see that a tree had been felled and that its trunk had been taken away.  The very base of it was all that was left, and it was clear that a large section of the root mass had rotted away or become diseased.  Just the same… the continuing loss of trees around our way feels relentless. This week someone else aggrieved by the felling of three massive trees on one block which I posted about recently took a spray can to the fence of the block in question.  One fence had something I can’t fully reprint here: ‘What the f*** have you done?’, and the other fence said the neighbourhood was in mourning for the loss of the trees and that planning laws should be changed.  I thought I would take a photo but this morning there was a chap with a paintbrush taking it out less than 48 hours after it went up.

But this is no reason to allow all the leaves of this felled tree to go to commercial composting if I could dye with them and then compost them.  Needless to say, after this flame orange result, I went back and cut all I could get into a chaff bag (that’s a very big sack, in my terms). As a bonus to my visit, the tree had been felled beside an E Cinerea, so I picked up every last leaf that had fallen from the E Cinerea too.  I’ll be running a workshop at my Guild in June and I’ll need to bring a goodly amount of dye material.

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This next eucalypt was standing in the parklands in North Adelaide.  I went there early one morning for an appointment so had a walk before my appointment.  I decided to sample it because India Flint suggests silver grey leaved eucalypts are promising dye plants.  The buds were so pretty!

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Clearly when it flowers there are many flowers… but not yet…

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The tree was an interesting shape…

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There was the intriguing feature of two different coloured trunks coming from one lignotuber.

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And I just can’t explain why there were so many land snails, but I love land snails.

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The result in the dyebath was a pale apricot.

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Then there was this tree, growing on the far outskirts of my workplace just outside a car park.  It seems like a box (one branch of the eucalypt family) to me.

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It was gloriously in flower, full of bees and birds.

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When I went back in the evening, I realised there were a few of these trees and there were also fallen branches.  Well worth sampling, in my view!

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I loved the colour from this plant, and I used a dyeing strategy India Flint described in Melbourne.  Far less energy use and potential for fibre damage… and clearly this may become my new normal way to dye with eucalypts!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

Leafy quilt back finished!

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On the weekend, I finally stitched together the back for a quilt that has been in some kind of progress through most of the last year.
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The blocks for the front are finished and I hope I have eco printed enough fabric for a border. A friend who was over on the weekend advised me about the sashing. So… now I need to get started on piecing the front together. Don’t hold your breath! Meanwhile, the saltbush seed I collected while we were on holidays is coming up and so are my vegetable seedlings, and I’m contemplating what to do with the home grown indigo and when I should do it!
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Holiday spinning

We had a fabulous holiday at Port Willunga.  In spite of the warm weather, I did a lot of spinning. I have three fat bobbins of naturally dyed wool waiting for plying and I three-plied this rather lovely wool and silk blend by Wren and Ollie, a relatively new local business.

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Here is the resulting yarn.

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It came with a tiny lucky dip batt. I spun it up finely and three ply was the theme of the moment. I could’t resist using the photo opportunities of the lovely beach shack we were staying in. The low turret on the front right seems to be an acorn cap, for those wondering about scale.

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Finally, I had several small batts of alpaca that began in natural shades of grey which I then dyed with eucalyptus, leavng the deepest grey in its natural state.  I turned them into a gradient yarn.

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One final photo just for fun…

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Leaf Print of the Day

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This glorious tree is in full bud near my parents’ house.

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I have had colour from the buds before, but they are still very small at present. You can see how spectacular it will be to have flowers in such profusion when the time comes!

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An entire branch had fallen to the ground: too good an opportunity to pass up.  I was on my bike that day, so I filled my pannier before heading home.

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And so, buds and leaves of an unknown eucalypt on silk velvet, part of a special pack of some kind from Beautiful Silks. I have no idea what I could do with these small pieces of velvet, but I’m more than open to suggestions.  Treasure bag? Cushion panel?

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Leaf prints of the week: Pecan and Eucalyptus on cotton

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

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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

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

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Filed under Eucalypts, Fibre preparation, Leaf prints

Harvest time: Eucalyptus Scoparia bark

‘Tis the season for bark collecting, again!  I’ve been out on my trusty bike visiting all the E Scoparias I know and investigating others that might prove to be (or not to be) E Scoparia. I pull my bike over to pack bark into a bag, trampling on it to crush it and make space for more, and filling again before loading my panniers.  Or, go to visit friends with my big bucket in hand and pick up whatever has fallen since my last visit.  Or, head out for a run, leaving my rolled up bag under a tree and pick it up to fill on my cool-down walk on the way back.  This E Scoparia, tucked in behind the foliage of a carob tree, is peeling lavishly.

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At home, I stash the bark in a chook feed sack, offering more opportunities for trampling which let me stack a lot of bark into one bag and get it into a form that will go into the dyepot with minimal fuss.

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This week, I found a new E Scoparia (at least, that was my hope).  I collected a bag full of bark and it is now soaking so I can test whether I have that right, in consultation with the dyepot. A friend who appreciates natural dyeing lives in this street–so I’ll look forward to telling her if she has a great dye tree at the end of her street! Blackett St:

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I also collected bark from this enormous specimen.  Last year I collected a lot of bark from this tree and then found I had one bag of bark that gave brown and not red to orange as expected.  I suspect that means this is not an E Scoparia.  Checking it out again today it is bigger than any other tree I believe to be E Scoparia and it has many more fruits visible and clinging to the stem.  My initial sense is that the bark smells different, too. The leaves give fantastic colour (at least they did before someone took a chainsaw to all the lower branches), but I am running a trial bark pot before the tree sheds the main part of its bark.  It is soaking alongside the other one as I write. Laught Ave:

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Next day, here are the dye baths, three hours in, presented in the same order as the trees from which the bark came. They look remarkably similar but smell quite different:

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Here are the (still wet) yarns that came from those dyepots, in the same order again.  Clearly, the second tree is not E Scoparia–or–for some reason its context means it doesn’t give the same colour.

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As I have had great results from the leaves of that second tree, I pulled the bark out, put some fallen leaves in, and re-dyed the tan skein…!

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