Tag Archives: E Incognita

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

Eucalyptus dyed gradient yarns

Some time ago I blogged about dyeing with windfall eucalyptus leaves. I had been dyeing over white corriedale and had quite a range of colours in the range of ochre and caramel through flame orange and… opinions differ about whether that really is red. Here it is, wet from dyeing and ready to be rinsed:

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I divided my fleece up into colour groupings, carded it and pulled a roving straight from the carder drum with a diz.  What a great technique.  You can find it on YouTube, but it was watching a friend from the Guild demonstrate it that really convinced me to try it out.  This Youtube video has an explanation of the same simple homemade diz my friend has made, so maybe she was inspired by that video.  Here are my rovings.  Creating these made me feel like I have learned a few things about fleece preparation.

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Then I created bumps of roving with segments of each colour, lined up to create a gradient from ochre through to reddish. Then, there was spinning and plying and skeining and washing–spinning being a craft of many stages–and now…

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I am so happy with this yarn! I can’t wait to share it with the friends whose sheep this wool came from.  Coincidentally, the week I finished this yarn, they invited me to their place for shearing time.

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Filed under Eucalypts, Fibre preparation, Natural dyeing, 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!

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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.

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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….

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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).

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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.

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A pair of backyard Eucalypts…

Recently I discovered that a friend who has one of the biggest E Cinerea trees I have ever seen in her back yard would like some of it removed.  I offered to cut and take away the dead and insect affected parts, to her surprise, and have now made three visits to do just that. I’ve begun some dye pots with alpaca another friend has asked me to dye.

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On the second visit to trim the E Cinerea, my friend’s partner spoke about the loss of a bough on their other eucalypt.  I looked closely at this second very large tree with rough, fibrous bark on the trunk and very narrow leaves and ‘Eucalyptus Nicholii’ went through my head.  Could I at last have found a fully grown specimen?  It branched so high and the ground had been so thoroughly cleared in the effort to remove all the fallen material that I couldn’t find fruit.  I did manage enough leaves for a dye pot however… and it is very promising! I heated the leaves for an hour, dropped the sample card in and went for a bike ride leaving the heat off.  When I got back:

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As I write I have added some alpaca fleece.  I will have to wait to make a more definitive identification… I have sometimes found that all the hours I’ve spent with books on Eucalypts have created the context for me to have a correct intuition about a particular tree.  Equally often, though–I have completely the wrong end of the stick!  But the alpaca is looking good as it sits draining…

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Intriguing trees…

I returned today to two trees I have sampled a little that are growing on my favourite running track.  We rode our bikes down it, so I took pictures (and some more leaves, needless to say!)

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Into the dye pot they went, with a sample card.

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Since I have two burners, I also ran a pot from leaves I collected when we went planting native trees on a friend’s farm.  It looked like E Cinerea to me… but an enormous tree, growing where there is so much more water than in the city where we live.

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The dye pot confirms that the E Cinerea gives great colour.  And the mystery trees gave  rusty orange with some tan undertones on handspun wool with no mordant, and brown on alum mordanted superwash.  Even more intriguing, really!

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Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Natural dyeing