Colours from our backyard

Eucalyptus wool

These are the results of my eucalyptus and brown onion skin dyeing. From top to bottom: eucalyptus overdyed with 50/50 eucalyptus & brown onion skin; eucalyptus overdyed with 100% brown onion skin; eucalyptus only. I’m very pleased with how it turned out – the eucalyptus only I thought a little disappointing at first since I was hoping for more intense colour but I have come to appreciate its delicacy.

I’m looking at natural dyeing processes and came across the work of Sophie Cantie via whipup. I think it’s fascinating to look at the colours produced in different environments. I purchased Sophie’s Earth Palette and it is beautiful and inspirational.

For my next dye batch I hope to include different fibres – cotton or linen – and produce different shades. Cellulose fibres like these require a mordant for colour pick up and fastness. I tried out rhubarb leaves. Don’t. Simmering rhubarb leaves smell utterly foul. I have the stockpot out on the deck now and I’m not sure that I have the stomach to use it.



In exciting developments ’round our place, the recipe for home-made deoderant (Hayley at Sew Green, via soozs) is an instant hit for me. I don’t like aluminium-based anti-perspirants but I do very much want something that works and this combination of cornflour, arrowroot powder, bicarb soda, coconut oil and essential oil is very definitely working. The Bloke has been gently puzzled by my insistence on trying this out and has delicately said that he has never noticed a problem before.

The recipe makes approximately 175ml which should be sufficient for 4-5 months (I suspect that might vary considerably depending on personal use and the season). Coconut oil is shelf stable for two years, so there’s no concern that it might go rancid. I did have some problems tracking down an Australian supplier of pure coconut oil and eventually found some here at Heirloom Body Care.

One last thing: the recipe calls for ‘several drops’ of an essential oil. Of a 12ml bottle of bergamot oil, I used 3ml and believe me, that’s a lot more than several drops. If you’re concerned about how much essential oil you’ll need for scenting and not keen to find out that you’ve used most of an expensive bottle, I’d recommend ti-tree, lavender or eucalyptus oils as strongly scented and cheaper oils.

A small glimpse of my other eureka moment last weekend:

From left to right: eucalyptus overdyed with 50/50 eucalyptus and brown onion skin; eucalyptus overdyed with 100% brown onion; eucalyptus only. The wool – New Zealand merino acquired from a destash a few years ago – has retained a soft hand and a delicate eucalyptus scent. I have about 350gm of the palest shade and about 50gm of the other two shades. I’m planning a stole, beret and perhaps some wristwarmers, each with some fair isle detail to bring out the different shades.

It was only after the skeins had been placed in the dye bath that I remembered a small but clearly important piece of advice: tie the skeins in at least eight places and not the standard four. Believe me, that shot does not convey the full tangled spaghettiness of all those skeins.

The last bit of eureka is Agence Eureka, a treasure trove of vintage French book and paper goodness. I particularly liked the old school book illustrations of ugly little Englishmen being soundly defeated by upright, tall, good-looking Frenchmen at a 1:4 ratio.

A new kind of personality test

By George, I’ve got it!

Your answers to the questions below could reveal everything you need to know about your personality.

These three samples are:

  1. Varieties of port; or
  2. Urine samples; or
  3. dye samples

I’m not actually sure what the answers would reveal about you, but if you answered 1 or 2 I’d be very happy to make your acquaintance.

Things to do with a hole in the sky

Imagine, if you will, a 35m gum tree standing near the fence, near all those woodchips.

It does leave quite a hole in the sky as the tree lopper said. It wasn’t our decision by the way; we’re in one of the councils who have relaxed vegetation clearing permits for a time so people can choose how to fireproof their property. This means that lovely as our landlords are, they decided to take advantage of this and take down three trees prior to subdividing the block. This tree hurt the most. It was a magnificent 25 year old gum tree and posed no block to subdivision as far as we could see.

Rather than let it all go to waste I had the Bloke ask the loppers to set aside a few branches for me – I haven’t read India Flint’s book for nothing. They willingly obliged and last night, as the sun set, I set about trimming leaves and branches. The leaves are grouped by new season growth (deep juicy green), older growth (longer leaves, drier and lighter green with a silvery film underneath) and the dead and dried (deep red to brown). Those last ones are in the box with bits of bark. The lass came and helped by going up to one of her cubby trees – a wattle – and bringing back some leaves and flowers. I did a tea test last night and the wattle flowers produce a lovely yellow that’s bright but delicate.

What amazed me as I was trimming was the colour of the new gumnuts. It took me heaps of shots before I got one with steady enough hands:

Australian fauna and flora is quite amazing. Except for the ‘stupid possum’ that keeps waking the Lad in the middle of the night.