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12.4.13

67 Barberry


Barberry: the bark gives butter yellow. Dyer's broom: the plant tops give lemon yellow. Dahlia: the flowers give egg yolk yellow. Are you sensing a trend? Yep, most plants when plonked in the dye pot give, you guessed it, yellow. If you're planning a dye garden, as I am*, it's worth bearing that in mind! The barberry we already have, and there'll be a rosemary hedge (the leaves give citrine yellow), but what else to plant? Hollyhocks? Hibiscus? Hypericum?

I've had Eucalyptus cinerea leaves simmering on the stove this afternoon and the house smells delish, if a wee bit medicinal. And now the leaves are soaking overnight in dye liquor that is already a promising rusty red. I'd love to grow eucalyptus, but I won't have room for a tree ... does anyone know if annually cutting back to the ground actually works to keep it shrubby?

What will I dye? Not yarn! I've dyed yarn before, of course, and no doubt will again, but just now I want to scale things down. Scraps of fabric, lengths of thread, a playful exploration with no particular project in mind. And then perhaps there'll be stitching, of the meditative kind. (A slow cloth ... does the idea appeal to you as much as it does to me?)

I'll be knitting too, I'm never not knitting**. And I'll be back in a couple of days with a yarny giveaway, so watch this space! Meanwhile, because that Barberry is home grown, I'm linking with Lou's wonderful Nature in the Home series. Check it out :)


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* We're bringing a narrow strip at either side of the block paved parking area at the front of the house back into cultivation.

** Okay, so that might be a slight exaggeration, but I certainly don't plan to stop any day soon.

67 comments :

  1. I think, "Oh, yes", dearest Annie.

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  2. Does red wine down a BRAND NEW white t-shirt count as experimenting with the dyeing process?! I wish I didn't like red wine....
    Will you show us the results, I do actually like the idea of natural dyes....just not red wine down a BRAND NEW t shirt! :) x

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    1. Oops! And yes I will show you the results :)

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  3. I think you need to move to Australia. Tons of eucalyptus here. And space, for that matter.
    I've yet to experiment with dyeing, either natural or artificial. Most of my time is spent anti-dyeing (i.e.. unstaining kids' clothing)!

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  4. I'm loving hearing about your dyeing exploits. I hope we get to see the results.
    Anne xx

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    1. You will, you will :) Dyeing anything with plant dyes, is another slow craft ... well it is the way I do it. But I have every intention of making my dyeing experiments quite a feature here :)

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  5. Do you know I have just finished my latest knitting project and have nothing on the go. It's a strange feeling, actually, and I don't really like it at all. I'm expecting some yarn to arrive through the mail and I wish it would hurry up and get here.
    As for natural dyeing, got all the stuff, just haven't got round to it yet. I'm getting very lazy in my old age!
    x

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  6. Oh, sounds like you will be having some fun dyeing!! Have a great weekend! xo Heather

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  7. Coreopsis tinctoria gives wonderful oranges. Japanese Indigo can actually give up its blue without making a difficult vat, just cold water and vinegar.

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  8. What a lovely picture!

    I am NOT knitting at the moment, although I really should because I have a birthday gift to finish - but having cut my finger rather badly the knitting is put on hold. Oh well, there is always wine to be drunk.

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  9. Yes! Speaking as someone living on an acre of bushland that features eleventy thousand eucalypts, yes you can cut it right back each year to keep it short and wide, and this will also ensure you get the juvenile leaves each year. I have several eucalypt books so if you need any further info just email me. I've dyed with eucalyptus leaves several times, as well as orher natural dyes. It's addictive!

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    1. Thanks so much Suse, and yes it is addictive isn't it :)

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  10. Love the idea of a dye garden Annie and read about slow cloth after following the link. How interesting! As always thanks for stretching the corners of my mind into areas I had not considered or ventured before, oh and a fabulous photo!

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  11. That sounds so wonderfully therapeutic! Have a lovely weekend,
    Xx

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  12. Oh! Bring on that Slow Cloth, Annie! I am cheating a bit with mine, although I am hand stitching, it just is getting done a bit faster than a slow cloth really should.

    Do we get some photos of the dyeing results? I was rambling through my fabric stash the other day, sorting out a few bags for a young crafter who is a penniless student! And found my stash of hand-dyed fabric --- oh, I'm in love all over again! Do dye cloth, Annie, you will be AMAZED at the results, and not just visually, hand-dyeing gives a wonderful feel to the cloth.

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  13. I'm curious.....
    xxxxx Ale

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  14. What fun! I too am drawn to the idea of dabbling with dye and have bought some woad seeds and some madder ones too. Apparently you have to be careful with both of these that they don't launch a takeover bid for the whole garden once they've got going! I haven't planted them yet o/a the weather. Would you like a few of each type? If you send me an email with your address I'd be happy to share the little packets with you. I think there are about 20 seeds in each and I don't think my dyeing exploits will require 40 plants! In the meantime happy experimenting! Looking forward to seeing the results from your bubbling pot! E x

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    1. That is so kind Elizabeth, thank you ... my address will shortly be on it's way, and I'm happy to swop for some of the seeds I've ordered (when they arrive).

      The last batch of dyed threads are drying as I type and I hope to post about them soon :D

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  15. I remember using hollyhocks - a deep dark purple colour and being surprised to get a very pale green! Lichen often gives pink but I think it makes a difference as to the time of year, the soil the plants grow in and the mordant you use as to what colours you get - that's what I loved about it that element of surprise. But I do remember my folder of samples being mainly yellows and beiges!!! If you can find a copy of Jill Goodwin's A Dyer's Manual you will find all the info you need.

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    1. I have Jill Goodwin's book ... it's great isn't it :)

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  16. Ooh, how exciting, making your own dye, Annie! Can't wait to see the results ...

    Love Claire xx

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  17. that sounds like such a wonderful idea Annie. I love the cycle'ness (?!) of gardens. (Cyclical nature?)
    Anyway - my brain is too tired to think - but love the whole idea. And have no idea what a slow cloth is but I know I'll find out soon - right here!
    happy weekend
    fee x

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  18. A dye garden sounds wonderful, such a good idea! As is a 'slow cloth', goodness I even feel relaxed thinking about it.
    V xxx

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  19. We had a eucalyptus in our old garden it grew like wild fire so be careful. A dye garden sounds wonderful i would love one. The slow cloth sounds intirguing and peaceful, the perfect way to slow life down. Sarah x

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  20. It sounds as though you are going to be enjoying yourself, good luck with it all.

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  21. Hello Annie, it sounds as if you have some interesting planting plans! I love the colour of that Barberry bloom. Home-grown no less! I also enjoyed looking in on 'Nature in the home' series. Thank you for the link.

    I am pleased to say that I managed to log in here quite easily with my computer connection working very smoothly indeed after a few freeze-up experiences!

    Enjoy your your experiments with natural dyeing.

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  22. Being on different sides of the pond access to natural materials for dyeing are evident. Have you ever used goldenrod for a mustard shade and sumac gives a deep rusty red. When I make violet jelly and the violet flower petals steep for a period of time, mauve to pale purple appears.This shade transfers to the liquid to prepare for the jelly making. Violets grow wild with abandon where I live so that may be something to explore...
    Have a lovely weekend Annie.
    Susan x

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    1. I've read that you'll get the best colour from violets if you freeze the flowers before use ... might be worth a try :)

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  23. Exciting stuff having a dye garden. I do want to get my act together enough to try dying, but I just never have any energy left over after doing things like blogging or knitting or going to the doctor.

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  24. How exciting, it'll be interesting to see what results from your play with plant dyes.
    Kim

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  25. I guess it's not always important to know the name of something to 'live' it....I've been part of the slow cloth movement (without knowing it!) most of my life.....thanks for helping me give it a name! I'm so anxious to see where this dye garden will lead you!

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  26. Eucalyptus do tend to put out many bushy sprouts when cut down but I could not guarantee that it wouldn't die either! Maybe you would be better off just trimming it regularly to bush it out.

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  27. Experimenting with dye has always appealed to me but I think it will have to wait a while before I can try properly.
    Your question about cutting back eucalyptus sparked some professional curiosity (eucalyptus isn't used in the British forest industry) and having had a wee hunt for info it looks as if coppicing (cutting back to encourage new growth from the stump) will work especially with some species. Have a look here http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/profile.aspx?pid=136 and here http://grafton-nursery.co.uk/coppicing-eucalyptus-trees.htm
    Off to check out slow cloth now. Have a lovely weekend, Julie

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    1. Thanks Julie :) I'm no stranger to coppicing ... I used to volunteer with the BTCV, I even still have a bill hook somewhere!

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  28. A dye garden sounds such a lovely idea. I'm having to think of our garden here but with the intense heat in summer, I think we'll have to stick to indigenous and very hardy plants. I fancied planting some eucalyptus for their fast growing and medicinal properties, but they would suck any water out of the ground and leave others with nothing, so hubby won't let me.
    Not knitting either - finished two jumpers before we moved house so my stash is my oyster...I think one of your fine shawl patterns might be a good idea. Must away to Ravelry to make a decision.
    Looking forward to seeing the results of the dyeing.
    Axxx

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  29. Another purrrrrrfect photo!

    Oh my pharmacist husband would love to sniff your kitchen, with those lovely simmering leaves aromas!!!

    And the link to Slow Cloth! Oh how lovely! Anything to do with the Slow Food Movement, is lovely in my eyes!!!!! Thank you for the link. I may well link to it, in my blog, some time. With a link back to your blog, where I found it, of course.

    I feel that there can never be too many "pointings" to all of the Slow Movement!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    "Auntie"

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    1. The more I think about it the more appreciative I become of the crafts that take time ... everyone is always in so much of a rush, it's lovely to have a balance to that :)

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  30. My husband noticed the bright yellow bark on the barberry when he was pruning it last week. I tried boiling a stick, but next time I will try peeling the bark off first. It's like hidden treasure in a plant isn't it? I had also read somewhere that black beans will yield a lovely blue color. I will definitely be trying that!

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  31. Really interesting reading about your plans for a dye garden. My parents too had an eucalyptus tree in their garden which grew very fast and therefore became tall not long after it was short. Unfortunately the wind got hold of it one day and it just snapped. It was a shame because it was quite a feature in their garden.

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  32. I wouldn't know where to start with plant dye Annie, you are an education to me! Just thought I'd say that I had a eucalyptus in our garden and I pruned it back to the main stem every year. Worked like a treat for the first 5 years, sprouted back beautifully, with those pretty young, round leaves. Then it just died. Not sure why.

    S x

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  33. That look like fun make natural dyes! I followed the link to slow cloth too and then discovered a site showing all the plants, fruits and berries you can use. I would like to try this too!
    Sarah x

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  34. That's so cool, planning a dye garden. First time I've heard of that. I can't wait to see the work-in-progress.

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  35. With so many ideas springing up, it sounds as though you're never going to be bored in that beautiful new studio of yours, Annie. :D

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  36. I enjoyed your link to the Slow Cloth movement very much. I know I am very results driven and it's always worth being reminded that it's about the process too.
    Beautiful photograph. x

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  37. Amazing photo! love it ♥

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  38. I skimmed over the Slow Cloth link but didn't quite grasp what the "cloth" was ... will have to go back and read more carefully (when it's not my bedtime).

    What a very gorgeous barberry photo....

    I just read an article (in Knitscene I think) on sun-dying. Perhaps it should be called Slow Dying, because it can take weeks or months - but it sounds fascinating. As does a dye garden. :)

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  39. Life is pushing me into acid dyes, which I so enjoy, but maybe just maybe when I get chance to slow down...hmmmm, I'll pick up my interest in natural dyes, ever present from my horticultural years and to plant a 'dye' garden now that would be a goal to savour. Look forward to seeing your results! :0)

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  40. Your dye garden sounds interesting, I was about to say that isn't it funny that everything (lots of things) come out yellow, but then I guess it's the chlorophyll?

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  41. I do love a bit of dye! Haven't done it for years but you may have inspired me again. There are bound to be some good ones in the Australian repertoire of native plants and there is rosemary in the new garden now.
    Many years ago I nurtured an indigo vat for a textile class I was teaching and made a lot of shibori pieces which I had completely forgotten about. The visit to the Slow Cloth story brought it all back. WHat a lovely set of philosophies!

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  42. There's a dyers garden at Melin Trefriw Mill - not that far from you, I suppose... and do you know Wild Colour by Jenny Dean? If you don't, then get hold of a copy - great book, definitely inspirational!

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    1. I know both the garden and the book: We first visited the former at least 15 years ago, but I haven't been back in ages, I must remedy that. The book ... I think mine is a first edition, I've certainly had it a long time. I'm having such fun revisiting this old hobby, and more so because I'm not wrestling with pans of the size necessary for dyeing skeins of yarn :D

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  43. Wow! This all sounds quite fascinating! I think I remember my daughter boiling onion skins to make (you guessed it!) yellow dye. What an interesting avenue to explore. xCathy

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  44. I find it extraordinary how a plant which we associate with a particular colour actually gives a different colour dye. I'm looking forward to hearing all about your dying exploits.

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  45. Annie, that is one of the most beautiful photographs I have seen in a long time, just gorgeous. I too am 'dyeing' to hear about your dyeing project! x

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    1. Thanks Suzie, knowing you're a photographer makes your lovely compliment all the more special :)

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  46. Absolutely gorgeous photograph Annie! I've heard of, or thought of, planting a dye garden. There is something so romantic and yet sensible about the idea.
    I'm hoping to teach myself to spin yarn this winter. We have an old spinning wheel that works well, I've just never taken the time to learn to use it.

    Have a lovely weekend,
    Sarah x

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  47. Wow what an interesting post. Knew about using onion skins but never heard of most of these. If and when you get the time to do it I will look forward to the results. Beautiful photograph. X

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  48. i am just in love with that picture!

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  49. Hello again
    I have been catching up with all of your posts - good to hear that treatment for your mum is reaching an end.
    Beautiful photo - not a plant that I am familiar with so good to learn something new. I have only ever dyed 'au natural' using onion skins....bit smelly I seem to recall..I was about 10 at the time though so not sure if I recall 100%.

    My blogging is s-l-o-w-i-n-g down sadly...but I trust that yours will continue and in fine fettle.

    I hope that your part of the world has thawed out!
    Best wishes
    Jenny

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  50. I do agree with the slow cloth idea. I'm fed up with this new rash of magazines with their talentless quick crafts.
    I must start dyeing again - though possibly not repeating the conversation many decades ago with the man in Boots when I enquired if they sold some acid (I can't even remember what it was now). He asked what I wanted it for and from his reaction when I told him "for dyeing" he obviously thought I was a potential suicide!

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  51. What a beautiful photo! I'd love to give a try to dyeing

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  52. what a fabulous photo! love the depth of field!

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  53. i for one can't wait to see the result of your slow meditative stitching. I love all shades of yellow and blues in natural dyeing. I think the master maker if you believe in one did so to bring us cheer.

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