- 5th March 2019
Natural dyeing with Eucalyptus bark
Before I played with wool I grew plants for a living, there were a lot of hardy exotics in my life and I still occasionally spend the odd morning at the nursery talking about plant production and happened to notice long strands of bark hanging from the eucalyptuses. There must be a use for all that bark – it appears there is.
Fresh bark of Eucalyptus glaucescens, this was loose bark that was still partially attached to the tree. Chopped in to 20cm pieces placed in a stainless steel pan and then covered with rain water. Allowed to soak for 24 hours, heated to simmering for one hour, allowed to stand for another 24 hours and then brought to simmering point for another hour. pH 3.8.
I think the resulting liquid could be a cure for the common cold I’m glad I did it outside otherwise the house would have smelt like an explosion at the Olbas factory.
Sorry about the state of my nails!
Finally for they dyeing. I used two 100g skeins of Corridale non super wash and a 20g BFL super wash mini. All the wool was soaked for 24 hours in water and then I treated one skein of the Corridale with Alum: 1 level tsp of Alum to 100g of dry wool, dissolved in water and heated with the wool to 85 ºC for 45 minutes and then allowed to cool. I rinsed the yarn in tap water before using.
I strained the dye through muslin and then took 2 litres and made it up to 4 litres with rain water in a stainless steel pot. Heated to 85 ºC and kept around that temperature for 45 minutes, left to cool in the pot overnight.
Next morning two wet skeins of yarn on the left with alum, on the right without.
I’m not sure if I’d ever use the lighter colour so it went back in the pot with a splash of iron water made by placing some old screws and nails in a jar and covering them with one third vinegar to two thirds water.
At the same time I put the BFL mini skein in pan of neat dye to which I’d added bicarbonate of soda to raise the pH to 8.8 (approx 10ml of bicarb).
Washed and dried, the results
Things I would change? I wouldn’t bother diluting the dye a few strips of bark produced a lot of dye and I’d give the wool that had been mordanted with alum a proper wash rather than a rinse but I think I’m hooked. I’ve already started soaking Cornus sanguinea Midwinter Fire and the rosemary that needed pruning.