May 16, 2013

Autumn Colour Naturally

I must have shown you the photo of my ornamental grape every autumn. It's such a gorgeous colour from the beginning to the end. It takes about a month before the leaves drop completely. Because I have got into natural dyeing lately I thought I would try all the autumn leaves I can find. In our garden we have a grapevine, fig tree, apricot tree and an olive tree and I can use their leaves to dye with. I'm not restricted to only the leaves in my garden. I also gathered some oak leaves and acorns from Canberra on our recent trip as well. 

I thought I would have a break from dyeing due to the cold weather, but how can I with all these beautiful autumn leaves all around me? Actually it's not as bad as I thought. After I gather the leaves I just soak them in rain water for a couple of days. 


After soaking the leaves for 24 hours the natural colour starts to appear. Next, I boil it up slowly for an hour. I usually let the leaves sit in the pot until the next day due to my limited time.

 
Next, I strained off the leaves and added hand spun yarn (not by me) that I mordant with alum. I bring the liquid and yarn up to the boil slowly and keep the temperature at around 80'C for an hour. I leave the yarn in the dye overnight before I take it out. You can see the colour in the above photo.  


I added some cotton into the mix and they did pick up some colour, but not as strong as wool. It's good to have various shades of coloured threads handy for stitch projects.


I dyed this yarn last year using onion skins. I think I only used a small amount of onion skins to get this delicious yellow colour. As simple as it is, onion skin and the strong colour it gives is often overlooked. Try it if you haven't done so....


This golden mustard colour I achieved from autumn fig leaves. The colour is much more beautiful in reality. I'm so happy with it that I put two more skeins of yarn in the same pot. It also dyed silk fabric beautifully too. 


Having lot of autumn leaves from the fig tree I thought I would do some eco dyeing with them. I have used green fig leaves a few times already, but this is the first time with autumn leaves. I haven't opened them yet. Let's hope they will turn out just as good as the green leaves.


I packed in quite a lot of leaves in this bundle. I mordant the kimono silk with alum before I dyed. I steamed the bundles for just over an hour. I don't really keep track of the time so precisely. I like to let nature takes it course and surprise me with the result! 


These vivid grape leaves are just beautiful. In a week as we enter winter, they will all be gone. I'm glad I captured them in this bundle. After the bundles have been steamed. I left them to cool overnight. The next day I put them in the dye liquid bucket leftover from the natural dye I mentioned above. I accidentally did this when I went to Bangkok and didn't want the bundles to dry out.  The result from this method is much richer than leaving the bundles to sit outside. 


The Japanese paper (washi) coil basket I posted here is now finished.I ran out of paper so I had to stop. I'm very pleased with how it turned out. It's 8" wide by 2.5" high. I'm thinking of using it as an ornament for our beach cottage "Seabird". 

This week the weather is wet and cold. It's very unusual for this time of year, but we did get gorgeous weather last week so I can't complain.

Until next time.
Nat

12 comments:

deanna7trees said...

i did some dyeing this week with a couple of silk damask pieces that were gifted to me and i thought of you. the colors you've achieved are beautiful. and the basket is perfect. great idea using the washi paper.

Needled Mom said...

Those colors are just luscious. The reds of the grape leaves gave off such wonderful colors in the different yarns.

When you make your bundles do you roll up all of those leaves inside of the fabric before you tie it up? I can see where that would leave such an interesting print on the fabric.

Your basket turned out beautifully.

Nedra said...

Beautiful photographs Nat! Just as you are getting colder, we are getting warmer here in Arizona. We are now in triple digits and it's only May :(

Kim said...

Oh my how beautiful. Can you dye by the sea too? Anything interesting there do use for dying? Love the grape leaves.....do you cook with them too?

Happy Sewing

montana joe said...

such lovely colors! you always coax beauty into your yarns from the most amazing sources!

Jeannie said...

Gorgeous leaves and the dyeing results are fabulous. Your coiled basket will look beautiful with treasures from the sea. :)

Terry said...

I always enjoy the unexpected results from natural dying. The colours are beautiful.
The bowl is lovely. I remember the small one from Bathurst so much colour.
We to are starting to have cooler days.

judib said...

I can see some interesting weaving coming from these yarns, Nat.

Queen Of The Armchair aka Dzintra Stitcheries said...

Gorgeous colours Nat....I love the Autumn ones best I think....And fantastic basket too for Seabird!

Els said...

Oh Nat, these autumn leaves look so gorgeous ! The red !!!!!
I did some onion skin dyeing myself and it gives such a wonderful strong yellow !
That basket, what a little gem it is, all the different bits of colour, amazing !
(we have spring, but ... it's cold and wet too ...)

MulticoloredPieces said...

And rightly so, you should absolutely show off that gorgeous ornamental grape, Nat! What intense color! And what a lovely basket.
best, nadia

Tracy said...


LOVE the gentle hues you've created with autumn leaves! What a joy to see...The almost pinky shade from the ornamental grape is especially lovely. And your finished basket is too. It's great to visit here with you, Nat! I've been away from the computer. We're just back from our little vacation. Fiber was purchased... LOL!:o) Happy Weekend ((HUGS))

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