With a large bag of Eucalyptus wandoo bark , fresh from York in WA’s east, I thought to see how it dyes different natural fibres. I’ve been collecting fine undyed yarns for while in order to put them into freeform crochet.
Above, from left to right of the top row: fine wool; fine 20/2 silk; and fine bouclé wool. At the bottom, a small hank of perlé No. 8 cotton. The silk and the boucle wool yarns were a lot more cream than the others to begin with.
Above, from left, thicker crochet cotton (about equivalent to perlé No. 3); kid mohair; and banana twist.
I prepared a wandoo dye bath in a heavy aluminium pot (from my friend Liz) by simmering the bark in water for about twenty minutes, allowing it to cool, then straining out the bark. I then transferred the dye solution into another aluminium pot, this time one with a lid.
It was interesting to see how the dye grabbed onto some fibres more quickly than to others. All were simmered for ten minutes then allowed to cool completely in the bath before removal , rinsing and drying. I did not use a mordant as I wanted to see how the fibres would go without any pre-soaking. However, the pots would have added some alum ( with a brightening effect) and wandoo bark contains very high amounts of tannin. In fact, wandoo trees used to be the basis of a tannin extraction industry.
In the end, after washing and drying, there was not much difference between any of the fibres. However, although difficult to see from the image, the cotton threads were a bit pinker than the wool and the goat mohair. The wool yarns and the silk had the densest colour, but then, as noted above, they were cream rather than white in their undyed state.
Above: Left to right top row: fine wool; banana twist; No. 3 cotton thread; and kid mohair.
Left to right, bottom row: No. 8 cotton thread; 20/2 silk yarn; fine bouclé wool.
My next exploration will be to use avocado skins on these fibres.