Monday, March 05, 2007


Yesterday I had my big trip over to my aunts woolcraft guild - over 4 1/2 total hours of travel, but totally worth it.

The theme of the day was dyeing with natural plant and foodstuffs, so I walked into the guild hall to the smell of simmering gum leaves and onion skins - lovely! One smell that I will never be rid of though was the rancid smell of cooking walnut husks - not very nice. It was really informative with many people willing to share their experience and knowledge, and also receptive to new ideas and techniques too!

So I wound off a few skeins for a bit of experimentation and this is what I ended up with. These miniskeins were dyed (from top to bottom) in gum leaves, red cabbage and walnut husks. The amazing thing about dyeing with gum leaves is that the same tree's leaves will yield different colours throughout not only different seasons, but throughout its lifecycle. The colours are longlasting with minimal fade and no mordant is required. Another really interesting thing I discovered is that contrary to what you would imagine, getting a green colour is really difficult. The closest we got to a green was dyeing with rhubarb leaves, but some of the more experienced members suggested that the colour would sun fade quickly.

I dyed 100grams of DK BFL in brown onions skins too, and got this gorgeous russet colour. I'm thinking this would make a beautiful hat with white fairaisle motifs, and maybe some of the stinky walnut brown could be worked in too.
I was very lucky too, to come home with a swag-load of books given to me by my aunt, including the fabulous "Wool Gathering" which was first published by the guild in 1974 and has since sold 18,000 copies, making their guild one of the most successful in Australia! I also bought home with me just a *small* loom. This is an 'inkle' loom. Predominantly used for narrow braids, belts and cords and fabulous as a first beginners loom. Weaving is amazing - I feel like I'm being led into a whole new world with it's own separate language. Wefts, warps, heddles and sheds - it's a fascinating art, and I'm looking forward to getting my *big* loom in a couple of months time.


Stitch Sista said...

Oh WOW. Will be coming for a visit to pet that baby soon LOL!

susieq78 said...

Wow sam I would have never have thought of dying with walnuts but I have thought of onion and beetroot. I dyed with coffee the other day and the colour was gorgeous. A very natural hue.

Baa Bum Mum said...

wow I love the strong colurs form the natural dyes, how absoluely amazing I am green with envy that you have something like that locally

oh weaving, TBH I ahve done it at uni and it wsn't my thing, I had a lecturer that loved glitter in everything which is prbably why :P have fun playing , I have some notes here somewhere if you need some patterns

Tania said...

It sounds like a fun day Sam. Your dying looks really lovely :) I love the earthy colours you've achieved. I like the mini skein done with gum leaves!
Wow the loom looks so interesting - make so sure there's a studio for Sam included in any house plans ;)

Donni said...

I have just got membership into the Wollongong Spinners and Weavers group (waitlist - 3 years)...and am really looking forward to getting into some weaving too.

Lynne said...

Those dyed yarns look fabulous. I'm very interested in trying some natural dyeing. Do you think it would be possible for you to put some simple instructions on your blog? Pleeeeeeez?