Tag Archives: logwood

Spinning up a storm

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The springtime brings on fleece washing, carding and seed planting, apparently!

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I’ve spun up all kinds of tragic fleece dyed last year, lawnmowing crossbred sheep’s wool, alpaca, blends, cochineal dyed fleece, natural fleece… there has even been some eucalypt dyeing (the orange skein in the foreground).

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I’ve spun batts created from logwood exhaust and woad exhaust and where did that even come from? batts.

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Anonymous roving from my friend’s stash.  Alpaca gifted from another friend.  Local fleece blended with dark grey alpaca with far too many burrs in it.  Possum and wool blended together.

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My winter of knitting was lovely indeed but I am loving being back to spinning as well, so it seems…

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Filed under Fibre preparation, Natural dyeing, Spinning

An outbreak of hats

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This is an oatmeal Blue Faced Leicester dyed by The Thylacine and spun three ply by me.

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It is rather fine, but I decided to knit a hat anyway and settled on one from Barbara Walker’s Knitting from the top, which is more of a concept plan than a pattern.  Perfect for handspun.  And then it turned out I could use the DPNs a friend surprised me by giving me a while back (I had helped her out with i-cord, and it was sheer pleasure, but I think that may have triggered the gift in some way).  They are a rather unusual size, delectably pretty and perfect for the job.

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While this hat was on the needles, I decided to cast on another in grey corriedale, dyed with eucalyptus and spun three ply and about 10 ply (worsted).  I made a rolled brim hat from Knitting for Peace. Easy and fast.  My picture taking was interrupted by our house guest, who turned out to be camera shy.

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At about this point, there was a hiatus and that first hat sat on the needles until holidays rolled around.  And then, there was an absolute outbreak that continued for some time after we returned from holidays.  There were some with oddments of experimental yarns (some early corespun in this case).

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Here is some handspun natural polwarth with some Noro sock yarn for contrast. Blocking wouldn’t hurt it a bit.

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Indigo dyes, logwood exhaust dye, eucalyptus bark dyes…

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Mohair, alpaca blend… you name it!  I even used up random commercial black yarn.

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I made some doll and bear hats. What else are oddments for?

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Then came the day I cast on with some super thick, super soft eucalyptus dyed wool of mystery and stopped.  Last night I managed to finish, finally.  I lashed out and blocked this one just to show I can.

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Most of these are Jared Flood’s Turn A Square.  More or less.  That first hat–I did finish it, and it was claimed by a friend while we were on holiday.  I don’t think she would really want her photo on the interwebs, so you’ll just have to trust me about it being finished.  However, half the skein remains so there may yet be a reprise. If I can ever bear to knit another hat!  I am the person doing all these repetitive series of makes, and even I find it hard to understand…

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Filed under Knitting, Natural dyeing

Ply time!

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

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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 🙂

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Filed under Natural dyeing, Spinning

Natural dyeing workshop

I began the final stage of preparation for my natural dyeing workshop by packing the car to capacity the night before and steeping logwood and madder in hot water. These are more of the dyes that have been left at the Guild.  It seemed good to share them with other Guildies this way.

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I came through the parklands on my way to the Guild and stopped in homage to a few trees.  This one turned out to be E Tricarpa…

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The unpacking was quite a thing.  This is a view of the back seat of the car before unpacking.

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The steeped fermenting walnut hulls (another dyestuff left at the Guild) travelled in the front seat footwell, in a pot with a lid, in a big bucket in case of spills.  No spills.  Whew!! I put heat under them an hour before people arrived in hopes of getting it over with.  My friends, I will never do this again.  It may take me years to live down the smell this dye pot gave off!  At one point when a heater went on, someone told me they had found a dead mouse in the heater.  When I went to see, they were looking for a mouse they were sure must be in there because they could smell it.  Cough!  The women who were rostered on in the Little Glory Gallery in another part of the Guilds premises exclaimed.  So did the treasurer, who came in to work on the books and was similarly appalled.  Eventually walnut tailed off and a eucalyptus bark dyepot began to prevail.  The smell of natural dyeing had people who had come to the gallery wanting to come and see what we were doing all day!  I give you the walnut hulls I will be living down at the Guild for years to come.  They produced an inky dye.  Truly impressive.

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I set up a bit of a display table of yarns and knits, leaf prints, tea cosies, sample cards and books.

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People had their first go at India Flint’s eco-print technique.  Some had read the book but never tried it.  I don’t know how people can resist!  The Guild has a copper which had been repaired because we were planning to use it.  Use it we did!

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My Mum deadheaded her African marigolds for me through summer and they made a great yellow.

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I tried grinding the soaked madder in a blender as Rebecca Burgess suggests (the second hand blender was pretty challenged) and here it is in the dye bath, in its own stocking… we got some lovely reds.

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I used one of the bottles of pre-ground cochineal that had appeared in the dye room cupboard.  The colour was entirely startling!

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There was a pot of logwood that came out so deep it was virtually black.  There was a pot of E Scoparia bark that gave some burgundy on the first round and some tan for a skein added in later.  There was an E Scoparia leaf pot and an E Cinerea leaf pot–oranges of different shades.  The dye room at the Guild has four gas burners as well as the copper–so we went wild.

The wonder of unwrapping eco print bundles never wears thin!

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I used the opportunity of being at Beautiful Silks in March to acquire organic wool as well as silk noil twill and some silky merino for this workshop.  E Cinerea did its wonderful thing.

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And so did human imagination…

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The string print on the upper right of this next image was a lovely surprise…

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It was overcast and the results of the dye vats which were the focus of the day are seen here in all their glory drying in the Guild car park! These are eucalyptus and logwood.

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These are cochineal, madder and marigold.  I had mordanted some silk paj in alum and taken it along.  I tried eco printing it years ago and didn’t think much of the results.  Wendi of the Treasure suggested jewellery quality string (which sounds very promising to me), so I’d been planning to eucalypt dye them–but took this opportunity to expand my palette.  The silk went orange in the madder bath even though wool in the same bath was much more red–still good.

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People made their own series of test cards too.

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It was a day of happy experimentation, I think, the smell of fermented walnut hulls fighting it out with stewed eucalyptus bark notwithstanding.  The people who came were friendly, warm and generous–a delight to be among.  It was a treat to be in the company of other people who are fascinated by eucalypts and by the dye possibilities of plants. Folk were talking about what they might do with their cloth and how they might approach their neighbourhoods differently…  I hope that for at least some it will be the start of an exciting new journey.  By the end of the dye I was deeply weary.  I took the logwood, madder and cochineal baths home with me (after taking suitable precautions against spillage) and began some exhaust dye baths next day.  But by late afternoon I was down to twining silk string mindlessly and happily…

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Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

Another workshop done!

The second in my little series of workshops at the Guild went really well. There was yarn, fleece and roving dyeing.  Brown, orange, almost-red and maroon from E Scoparia (bark and leaves) and E Cinerea leaves, yellow from silky oak (Grevillea Robusta) using Ida Grae’s recipe from Nature’s Colors: Dyes from Plants, and the ever-astonishing purple from red sanderswood with alum.  I again used Jenny Dean’s method from Wild Colour and still got nothing like the oranges she suggests are likely.

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Mysterious outcomes in natural dyeing are not all that uncommon (at least for me!), as the number of variables is so huge.  But this one is out of the box–purple!?  Since my last post on the subject, Jenny Dean has very generously been in touch with her thoughts on the matter.  She suggests this purple could be the result of alkalinity (but given I made no attempt to generate an alkaline bath, it seems unlikely it was seriously alkaline).

Or–and I agree with her that this is much more likely, even though I used 4 different jars/packs labelled “sanderswood”–perhaps the dyestuff  was never sanderswood to begin with.  The colour is very, very like the logwood results I have had, just about indistinguishable.  I am still not complaining about the result–I love purple and so did the participants.  I was hoping for purple on this occasion, as I have no more logwood–that I know to be logwood.  Perhaps there was a time in the past when a batch of “sanderswood” came to our Guild or a supplier nearby and all the different jars I’ve used ultimately can be traced back to the same mislabelled supply. This would fit with my experience of Eucalypts… it is much more likely that I have misidentified my tree than that the dye bath is giving a completely different colour.  Variation to some extent, however, is completely expected.

Here is the “sanderswood” just after I poured boiling water over it–Jenny says this looks like a logwood bath to her.  I bow to her much more extensive experience and wisdom, without hesitation.

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I have the biggest chips in a little zippered mesh pouch that must once have held toiletries.  The smallest chips/splinters are in something that looks just like a giant tea ball.  I saw it for sale in a Vietnamese grocery where I was investing in greens, seaweed and soy products and immediately saw its possibilities.  The woman who sold it to me had an eye-popping moment (evidently she hasn’t sold one to an Anglo before), and asked me what I was planning to do with it.  I love those moments in Asian groceries, because once I’ve been ask the question and given my (admittedly bizarre) response, I can ask about the ordinary use of the device or food in question.  This one is usually used to contain whole spices when making a big pot of stock or soup.  This point was helpfully illustrated by a packet of soup seasonings–star anise and cinnamon and coriander seed were some of the spices I could identify right away.

People tried out India  Flint‘s eco-print technique on cotton, wool prefelt and silk.  I hope she will get some extra book sales as a result (if you’d like to acquire her books, click on the link to her blog and look for the option to buy them postage free in the left hand sidebar).

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There were biscuits and icy poles and lots of chat.  I demonstrated soy mordanting and black bean dyeing.  And while we were at the Guild and using the copper, which is such a generously sized vessel by comparison with my dye pots, I leaf printed some significant lengths of fabric that I brought to the workshop bundled up and ready to go.  The copper really is copper lined, but I could detect no obvious impact on the colours.  Seedy silk noil:

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Wool prefelt… the degree of detail is fantastic.  This is destined for felting experimentation by a dear friend who generously assisted me at the workshop.  Her practical help, support, constant grace and good cheer made things go so smoothly.  I also decided to start some processes before participants arrived, which I didn’t do at the previous workshop.  I think that helped.  But it was a fabulous group of people too.

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And finally, silk/hemp blend, destined to be made into a shirt (by me, so it may take a while).  I am delighted with how it turned out, after many months of putting off the day.

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Filed under Eucalypts, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

Abandoned dyestuffs of the past

A while back, I became the happy recipient of some dyestuffs that had been left at my Guild long ago.  Most were labelled, some were not.  The only one I had previously tried was indigo.  I’m thinking we’ll dye with some of them at natural dyeing workshops I’m running for the guild this year, but I needed to try them out first, check they still have dyeing capacity.  There are some in tiny quantities.  This one, for instance.  8g of something that looks like a dried fruit or husk, between the size of a hazelnut and a pea.  I posted this picture on natural dyeing fora online but got no clues at all. I await any clues readers might be able to offer.

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The fact that I can’t identify it is a shame, because here is what happened when my dear friend and I had a dyeing day and tried it out. We soaked it overnight (in rainwater); simmered for an hour, added fibres mordanted in alum and here is the resulting colour. The yarn is mohair mordanted in alum, the sample card (wool and wool+alum) won’t wash off, and the fabric is silk, no mordant.  Burgundy… maroon yarns (with pink silk as a background).

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We dyed with Osage Orange, which gave jewel bright yellows on silk especially; and Logwood, which gave strong purples even on the second bath (I plan a third).

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The Madder is still soaking; and then there is the Red Sanderswood/Red Sandalwood.  Based on reading Jenny Dean‘s informative book Wild Colour, my dependable guide in many such matters, I expected hues of orange to brown.  I expected to think ‘why ever import this wood when these colours are readily obtainable from so many local plants’?  But nature is a complicated thing.  I did not expect this:

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The roving is unmordanted merino.  Almost no dye took at all.  What did take amounts to a smudge of orange.  The cloth is cotton mordanted with soy, and it is quite a red-brown.  Rust, perhaps.  The skeins are alpaca-wool blend and mohair, both mordanted in alum.  They are vivid purple, and so is the wool mordanted in alum on the sample card.  I could scarcely tell the sanderswood skeins apart from the logwood dyed skeins once they dried.

Jenny Dean offers no suggestion of purple from this plant using any combination of mordants.  It can’t be a simple case of mislabelling–the logwood baths have produced purple on silk and cotton as well as wool.  The sample card was mordanted months ago, using different wool and different alum than these skeins, and any contaminants in my dyepots would have been different, surely.  Even my rainwater will have changed in that time.  What can it mean?  My friend and I decided it meant ‘dye more protein fibres mordanted in alum’, because we both think purple is an exciting outcome!

More natural dyeing mystery–meaning the depths of my ignorance are still being plumbed by this process.  But since the result was purple… I mean, purple… I’m not feeling sad about this outcome at all.  And the exhaust dyebaths were good fun too.  The madder is on its third turn as I write.  But more on that later…

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