Tag Archives: E Nicholii

Moko Trews and Baby Shoes

The lovely Marion from Beautiful Silks sent me two sets of blanks for “moko trews”–trousers for the grandbub. One layer in cotton (the lining) and one in silky merino (the outer).

They were just so glorious! I dyed the outers and set about constructing them. It took a little while and then they were just SO cute!

Into the very slow mail service they went. Weeks passed. At the time, this was not surprising.

Australia Post says they were delivered and left in a safe place, but apparently not, because they have utterly vanished. And so, my friends, has a second parcel.

I made some more baby shoes–graded up in size, insulated for warmth, and hand embroidered, with nice stout soles. Let’s overlook their defects…

I very much hope that these two parcels ended up with people who could use these items so lovingly made and involving such a kind gift to me… and not just in someone’s bin by the side of a road. I wish they could at least have left my cards to the dear ones that I have now not seen in person for months, whose comfort I’ve been trying to raise in times of challenge. But I guess I’ll never know.

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

And Another Apron

Now here is an old post… I think it had been waiting for the very final change I wanted to make, which happened weeks ago! Here it is at last.

Eventually (after a couple of aprons), I decided to return to the Alchemist’s Apron and check my grasp of the fundamentals. Sure enough, I immediately learned something that helped… and finally I got a result I really liked using an iron mordant. Gratitude to India Flint! This had been a large white linen shirt. But now–some great prints from a Eucalyptus Nicholii sapling a friend and I planted in the guerilla garden.

Here it is being bundled for the dye pot. And below, close-ups of the parts of the garment I like best.

I sewed on some old coins I’d brought home from a shrine sale in Japan. And some beads I found in an op shop (thrift store). Then buttons… India Flint has made some wonderful works with lots of buttons on them, and I have a LOT of buttons, albeit very few of them especially beautiful in their own right. Why not? In the end I had more than I liked and cut a block of them off again! Then the serious stitching began and again I found I just wanted to keep going.

In the end, I added and then removed buttons, decided the skirt was too short and added panels of cotton calico dyed with some dried leaves, and adjusted the neckline a couple of times until I liked it.

I created some funny pockets and misjudged some pocket placement vs construction details. But it doesn’t matter.

The threads are all silk and silk cotton dyed with plants. Madder, eucalypt…

I am so interested that now I can look at madder dyed textiles and tell the difference in the shade between madder and eucalyptus, because I remember when I couldn’t.

Here is the whole thing. On its early outings I realised it was really loose, and bagged out at the back. In the end, I added a second button and button hole so that I can have it close enough to my body to be comfortable and to do its work. It also means that those beads don’t drag the whole apron down on one side like they did. They may yet be removed! And the coins make it tinkle. Which I am surprised to find I rather enjoy. Fabulous. Thank you, India!

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

Return to guerilla gardening

This is my second attempt at this post, having lost the first when it was complete but not scheduled… so this is the crisp and fast version!

I’ve had a long break from every kind of gardening with a protracted recovery from an injury–but now I am decisively on the mend I’m doing little gardening often. Gleefully propagating and planting! So today, out to a new patch planted by Council and provided with a watering system, where a lot of plants have died and not been replaced. It’s not the best time, but that passed some time ago and these plants can’t thrive in pots forever either.

I found a little message from the universe as I contemplated the crispified NZ flax at this site that was so lush until we hit 40C. Count me among those trying to care for creation, whether it resulted from the actions of deities and spirits or whether it arose from the big bang and evolution. This garden mixes plants from different parts of Australia with some from Africa and one from Aotearoa (New Zealand) and that seems quite wrong to me. But–Council has provided for my future flax weaving ambitions and I am glad this garden is there and growing to maturity despite some losses.

In went dianella revoluta, two species of tall saltbush and a Eucalyptus Nicholii that was irresistible at the hardware shop for $A3. Long may they live and thrive. And then, litter picking, watering, weeding and home for breakfast. **Save draft** **LOL**

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Filed under Dye Plants, Neighbourhood pleasures

In guerilla gardening this week…

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It was another big day in local guerilla planting!  😉

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I planted a Eucalyptus Nicholii for the sheer nerve of it.  If it grows it will shade a bench council have installed.  It’s a big ‘if’.  But evidently I can dream.

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Fine leaved creeping boobialla propagated in autumn.

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Needless to say, plenty of ruby saltbush.

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These plants are being added to a place where I have already planted boobialla, olearia and several varieties of saltbush.  Some are coming along very nicely in this spot, and while a few are struggling, very few have been killed.

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On the homeward trip, very little rubbish and a bucket full of weeds.  The last round by the council poisoner resulted in several plants being killed elsewhere nearby (those I planted and some of Council’s plantings too).  I have drawn the conclusion that I should target weeds growing among plants I would like to see live, for early weeding.  And… I am still enjoying weeding and revegetating the neighbourhood, and the sooner I plant before the height of summer, the better the chances these plants will make it through high summer.  Time to plant seeds!

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Filed under Neighbourhood pleasures

Rhubarb leaves and tamarind

I haven’t found a lot of joy with rhubarb leaf mordant so far… but I do grow rhubarb and often wish I could use the leaves somehow before they reach the compost heap. One chilly day I wondered whether they might just be good in the dyepot–if I heated them surely they would release oxalic acid into the dyebath and even if that is all that happened, raising the acidity level of the bath can be a good thing.  Why not?

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Then, in with E Scoparia bark.  And eventually, two mesh bags full of polwarth fleece.  In fact, the last two!  I seem to have reached the end of the polwarth fleeces, which seems well nigh miraculous–though they have been just lovely to work with, these are BIG sheep.

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The rhubarb leaves did produce a deeper, burgundy shade–than the citrus acidifier in the other pot.  Is this a quantity effect, sheer luck…?  I am not honestly sure, but I will certainly try it again.  The water has to be heated for the dyebath anyway and letting it steep a little before removing rhubarb and adding eucalypt is not too difficult.

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In another acid experiment, I have been cleaning out the kitchen cupboards (well, some things over a decade old are leaving the cupboards)–and found this:

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Wasn’t I in Brisbane at least 12 years ago the last time I cooked with tamarind??  I put it into a big jar and topped up with water.

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Then, into a dyebath with E Nicholii and some of ‘Viola’s’ fleece–she’s a local pet sheep who seems to have some English Leicester parentage.  Another gift fleece.

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Tamarind on the left, citrus acidifier on the right.  Curious!  I have another bath with the exhaust dye baths and a second round of leaves steeping (also known as waiting until I have time and inclination…) now.

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Filed under Natural dyeing

Bundles of the week

One of the things I noticed at Tin Can Bay was that some people identify that something is less lovely or less suitable than it could be, and go about transforming it into something lovely or suitable.  I have been known to do this… but it made me conscious that often I just live with the ugly version or wish that thing was different every time I wear or use it.  I also realised I don’t have a lot of confidence I can improve on things.  What if my intervention makes them worse?

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So it occurred to me that I could change the little calico drawstring bags I have acquired full of soap nuts and the odd other item.  They are useful but ugly right now.  Why not dye them?  This idea happened along in a week when there was cow milk in the house (unusual these days), so I decided to try using it as a mordant.  If it doesn’t work–it won’t be too late to use soy another day, I decided.  Duly treated, I applied E Nicholii leaves.  The leaves my friend gave me are full of buds, splendiferous materials for leaf printing goodness.

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There were three bundles in all in this dye pot, and I chose this one to unwrap.  Nothing special had occurred.

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I’m not sure whether this was due to the mordant (poor application, for instance!) or whether I just paid too little attention and the bundle didn’t have a long enough, hot enough time in contact with the dye.  I had left it dyeing and gone out to play guitar and sing and generally be a flibbertygibbet–occasionally something suffers through this kind of neglect (but I had a good time)!  I was undeterred, because if at first you don’t succeed, try again later with tried and true processes you understand on a day when you are paying enough attention.

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I rewrapped, and decided to reheat the other two bundles as well rather than disturb them, when their companion had not done well with careless treatment.

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The other bundles were another calico bag and an infinity scarf destined for a friend who loved the one I made at India Flint’s Melbourne workshop.  I am seeing my friend soon and I have another gift for her too.

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This time, E Cinerea and E Nicholii…

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The other milk soaked calico bag–had rather nice beads on its drawstrings. Here are the bundles prior to heating.

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Here they are after the first heating–the silky merino looks good–but I had hoped for deeper colour.  The filthy artisanal plastic bucket in vibrant green is an extra special touch, I feel.

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After some further cooking, the calico bags all looked darker but still pretty awful and the whole bucketful was strangely blurred (joke, Joyce!).  Back to soy mordanting for now.   However, that big bundle in the middle is the infinity scarf–looking good.

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The calico bags still require improvement.  They look better here than in real life!

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I really like the way the scarf turned out.  The colours are rich.  There are some nice ochre and deep grey sections for contrast.

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I really like some of the details–as I had hoped, the E Nicholii buds have left their mark as part of an overall pattern.

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Now to see if my friend likes it–but I have some quiet confidence that she will…

 

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Filed under Leaf prints, 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

Fibre preparation

There has been a breakout of fibre preparation.  I got to the end of all my carded fibre.  So I started going through what I had washed and otherwise ready to spin.  Grey corriedale dyed with Eucalyptus Nicholii: before…

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…after.

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Polwarth dyed with indigo.  Apparently overlooked last time I was carding…

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Here it is ready to spin.  Just one random batt.

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Then there was some angora (rabbit)–just a handful.  A Guild member was gifted this at the Royal Show last year by a rabbit breeder and since she couldn’t spin, I offered to dye it for spin it for her.  I dyed it prior to the workshop I ran along with a huge batch of fibres for the workshop participants.

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It was reeeeally short, and there was not very much.  So I carded it into some natural white polwarth.  Tweedy angora flecks?

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I managed to spin it into a singles before I went to Guild, then plied it up for her on the night.  Here’s a rough and ready photo.  She was delighted.  She is a tapestry weaver, so I feel sure this will find its way into a tapestry in due course!

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Filed under Fibre preparation, Natural dyeing

Eucalyptus Nicholii

On a public holiday some time back, I had a picnic in the Wittunga botanical gardens with a friend.  It was an overcast day, and my phone was in for repair, so I took my Mum’s old camera.  In case it isn’t obvious, I am apologising for the quality of the photos.   Last time I went there thinking about dye plants was a long time ago.  This time, we parked and almost as soon as I stepped out, I could see that there were trees that could be E Nicholii all around the carpark.  They were indeed E Nicholii and they were many and very large!

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I couldn’t really get a picture that gave a sense of scale.

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These were huge trees with many little leaves.

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Luckily for me, they had dropped twigs and leaves on the ground below…

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And later… into the dye pot they went!

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Lovely–and justly famous as a dye plant, I think.

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Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Leaf prints

Dyes of antiquity: Eucalyptus leaves

My friends, there is going to be a little series on dyes of antiquity here on this blog. It arises from plant dyestuffs that have been donated anonymously to my Guild, which have come to me as the person currently teaching natural dyeing at the Guild.  Needless to say, there are women at the Guild who know more about natural dyeing than I do and have decades of experience.  Some are dyes used in antiquity (cochineal, indigo, kermes).  Others are in packaging that predates metric weights  in Australia, which came in in 1977.  Certainly, safe disposal of mordants that are now regarded as toxic has had to be arranged.  So I am using the word ‘antiquity’ both literally and figuratively–but I have a trove of dyestuffs which I would usually not have come across, and some of which I would not be prepared to buy if they were available.  Some require identification.  Some require research, so I can figure out how to dye with them.  I decided to start with what I know.

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There were bags of varying sizes containing eucalypt leaves.  One was clearly E Sideroxylon leaves.  Then there was the orange bag of unidentified leaves–possibly E Nicholii (which has clearly been in widespread use at the Guild in the past).

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Then there was a lovingly stored and labelled small pack of E Crenulata leaves.

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From time to time, people online ask whether you can store Eucalyptus leaves for too long.  I don’t know.  I tend to use what I have on a rotating basis, partly because I have seen what insects can do to stored vegetable matter!  These leaves appeared to have been stored for a long time, but under good conditions.  No signs of insect damage.  They had clearly been dried prior to being bagged for storage.  They retained some green colour. They were sitting on top of a stack of newspapers dated 1991.  Was that a clue?  I don’t know!  A fellow Guild member who helped me clean out the cupboards thought they were probably older!

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The E Sideroxylon leaves gave far more intense colour, partly because there were more of them.  And possibly because the small fine leaves were not from an exciting dye species and the second dyepot was mostly relying on the small quantity of E Crenulata.  Just the same, more of my white alpaca fleece is getting dyed, spun and ready to be knit all the time…

Meanwhile, I am preparing for a dyeing workshop at the Guild and deciding which of the dyes that have come to me are suitable for use there… I’m thinking madder, walnut, cochineal and logwood!!

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Filed under Eucalypts, Natural dyeing