Tag Archives: red sanderswood

Tuffsocksnaturally dyeing: sanderswood *cough* edition

IMAG6470

This post is part of the Tuff Socks Naturally project, an open, collaborative project exploring more sustainable alternatives to superwash and nylon in sock yarn. You can join in on the discussion on this blog or on the blog of the fabulous Rebecca at Needle and Spindle or on instagram using the hashtag #tuffsocksnaturally.

When last you saw this skein of yarn, dear readers, it was a sad excuse for pink after the failure of my betel nut dyeing experiment. At that point, I decided to take advantage of it having been mordanted in alum and dye it in something requiring an alum mordant. I still have a back catalogue of natural dyes left at my Guild. I picked out a small [sealed] pack of “sanderswood”.  The package showed its age–there was the address of a business in New Zealand/Aotearoa that must have closed long ago.  And we are talking a label created before the personal computer became an everyday item in the overdeveloped world.

IMG_20180601_075504_594

Jenny Dean gives alternate names as sanderswood, red sandalwood and Pyterocarpus Santalinus. The dye comes from the heartwood of the tree, so in ordinary circumstances I would not use it.  But this tree was cut down long ago and it is not in my power to bring it back.  I looked at the fine wood chips and gave them a good soaking before preparing the dye bath and throwing the fibres in.

Well.  Jenny Dean did not lead me to expect this!  Perhaps I should have weighed and measured?  Perhaps the betel nut under dye (pale as it was) or the alkalinity of the betel nut bath had something to do with it (yes, I washed and neutralised but even so)?

IMAG6607

On my test card, this colour came closest to alum applied hot (which is how I mordanted the sock yarn). So evidently the betel nut dye was not entirely the source of the outcome. In passing, I mention that this is one of the more interesting outcomes for the rhubarb leaf mordant I have seen. But the mystery, as it turns out, was still unfolding.  A week passed (you know, day job).  The dye bath had the slight beginnings of mould, so I heated it again, lid on, to kill the mould, removed it, and mordanted more handspun yarn.  This time a softer, greasier fleece that I’d spun quick and thick.

IMAG6640

In it went.  I expected the result to be uninteresting because brown.  Sorry to you lovers of brown, but this is surely what brown sheep are there for? I know.  I can’t help myself. Well, glad I bothered, because:

IMAG6642

Not only that, but eventually when that pot had steamed for over an hour with the yarn in it, I added another skein and it just kept giving.

IMAG6647

What can explain this?  Jenny Dean’s sample card shows oranges and yellow and brown for sanderswood.  I can say my pots are not clean enough to rule out modification by iron, but that does not normally create purple!  So perhaps this was really logwood?  But that doesn’t explain the deep brown.  And it is way too late to ask anyone at the Celbar gallery, Papanui Road, which sold this dyestuff, presumably by mail order.  I have found one reference to it online, in a publication dated 1978 that someone has lovingly scanned and uploaded for posterity.  Roll on, the plant dyeing mysteries! Once dried, this yarn was undeniably logwood purple–and what’s more, the tendency to give and give and give is something I have found also characterises logwood.  So on this occasion, I’m going to say this was NOT sanderswood, it was logwood. And, I see I had the same kind of result in 2013–so there may have been an entire batch mixed up somewhere in the past that came to our Guild!

 

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under 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.

IMAG0896

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.

IMAG0862

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).

IMAG0871

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:

IMAG0903

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.

IMAG0913

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.

IMAG0924

9 Comments

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.

986

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).

IMAG0682

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).

IMAG0685

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:

IMAG0684

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…

IMG_0053

5 Comments

Filed under Natural dyeing