Dyeing Day

After the storm last week I kept finding myself eyeing downed branches from eucalyptus trees and thinking about dyeing. Near to home there was one particular branch that wasn’t cleared up by Saturday, so in the afternoon I went for a walk to get it. Unfortunately it had gone quite dry, though it is still possible to dye with dried leaves. While dragging it home, I discovered that the gardener for the block of flats across the road had been trimming trees, and there was some fresh gum tree branches on the pile. So I nabbed them as well. It made for quite a pile in the cat run:


The fresh leaves were nicer to touch, so I started ripping off leaves. It turned out that it took only one of the smaller fresh branches to make up a kilo of leaves. (According to my book, Eco Colour, you need around the same weight as the textile you’re dyeing.) So my green waste bin is now half full of gum branches and leaves.


Then it turned out that my pot wasn’t big enough – something I’d forgotten since the last dyeing experiment. I only got a little under half the leaves in.


I set the leaves simmering, and in the meantime set up another pot to dye a t-shirt. I’d tried solar dyeing it before and only managed to darken a stain. This time I had some green tea that Paul had accidentally bought instead of peppermint tea. To add an extra bit of experimentation to the mix, I wrapped the t-shirt around some rusty nails.


Once the leaves had simmered long enough I took them out, then introduced half the yarn (Cleckheaton Country 8ply) and kept stirring to make sure the dye bath never went beyond steaming to actual boiling. I poured a kettle full of boiling water over the tea bags and t-shirt, and decided to leave it at that rather than risk I’d run out of gas for the camp stove.


After the yarn had steeped for the right time, I turned the heat off and left it to cool in the pot overnight. This morning I repeated the steps with the second half of the leaves and yarn. As you can see, the yarn is now a honey colour. Which is nice, but not very ‘me’. I’m thinking of getting one of those really big soup kitchen pots and more leaves to overdye the yarn, and see if I can get the kakhi green the book says you get if you dye in an aluminium pot.

The t-shirt, however, was a great success:


The tea made very little difference, but the nails left a blue-grey imprint that is fabulous. And it goes perfectly with the porcelain pendant necklace I bought at the Northside Makers Market that morning.

On Sunday I went to a bookbinding class, but I’ll save that for another post…

2 thoughts on “Dyeing Day

  1. I just rolled the tshirt around them. I also put the whole t-shirt into one of those plastic netting onion bags to keep it from coming undone in the pot.

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