Dyeing with Eucalyptus: Making the dye solution

Well, today was a very rainy day here in Baltimore. But it was a good day to begin our first adventure into natural dyeing. This past May we attended the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, we discovered eucalyptus leaves can be used for natural dyeing.  This peaked our curiosity! So, we purchased a packet of crushed eucalyptus leaves from the Stony Mountain Fibers of Charlottesville, VA.  According to the directions, the dye color range is reds to orange.  A word of caution when preparing the dye bath, eucalyptus smells very strong when heated (very strong menthol).

How to make the dye bath*:

*This recipe has been modified according to the weight of eucalyptus leaves in our packet.

  • 4 ounces eucalyptus leaves
  • 3 quarts of warm water

We placed the eucalyptus leaves in a cheesecloth bag (previously used to hold grains for beer making, very handy) and covered the leaves with 3 quarts of warm water.  Since we used collected rain water, the water was briefly heated before adding the leaves.  Then the mixture soaked for several hours in a stainless steel dye pot. The next step was to heat the dye bath for 1 hour (simmer).  Finally, the dye bath was cooled and stored for later use.

The next step is to mordant the wool in preparation for dyeing.  Our fiber of choice is corriedale roving.

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