Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dyeing wool with Eucalypt leaves

Thanks to Lyn and Maria for their comments about the homespun bag and interest in the colour obtained from Eucalypts. I decided to add a few notes about my experiences using the leaves as others may also be interested. There are over 500 varieties of Eucalypts in Australia but only a few give really good colour for dyeing wool. as most will only provide pale shades of fawn. The best colour is from those trees that have greyish leaves and among these Eucalyptus Cineria is ideal as it produces a range of rusty colours through to a red earth depending on the strength of the dye and how long the wool is left to soak. The best colour seems to come from dried leaves. Because I particularly wanted this dye I planted this Eucalypt at our place in the Blue Mountains some years ago and had access to the leaves as it grew. Now it is a large tree and the leaves are well out of reach so can only be cut with an extension pruning tool!


Lynne said...

Doesn't the colour also depend on what mordant you use?

Maria said...

Do you boil the leaves first to extract the colour or how ....?

Marion said...

Yes Lynne, some mordants can alter the colour. Alum produces the yellows and fawns, copper will give pale green and iron will give greys. But some plant dyes are substantive/direct dyes that do not require a mordant for the wool and this includes euc.cineria (silver dollar gum).

Yes Maria, you need at least double the weight of the leaves to the amount of wool to be dyed and they are boiled for several hours (filling the house with the lovely smell of eucalypts) They are then left to soak overnight as this deepens the colour of the dye. Leaves are then removed and dyestuff brought to a simmer. Small hanks of wet wool are then added and simmered gently. The wool is then left to soak overnight to maximise the dyeing process.

Joan - South Island, New Zealand. said...

I love that strong colour! With your instructions I am keen to try this.