Natural dyeing with Blue Quondong

Natural Dyeing with Blue Quondong


On my morning walk I came across these lovely Blue Quondong (Elaeocarpus grandis) fruit that had fallen to the ground at the end of our street. They had been there for a little while as they were not freshly fallen but had already started to dry out. Among them were a lot of the inner seed as well and I think the local cockatoo's have already had their fill of the fresh fruits at the top of the tree.

The Blue Quondong tree is a tropical rainforest tree native to the Australian east coast. The fruit is able to be eaten and is enjoyed by many birds and mammals. It is a natural bushfood to local indigenous people and is now sometimes grown in backyards where the fruit can be harvested and made into jams.

Having started my dyeing journey back in 2008 using natural ingredients, my interest is always peaked when I come across something that I might be able to extract some colour from and I love to experiment.

When approaching getting dye liquor from these Blue Quondong seeds I treated it much like you would a bark as the seed in the middle is very hard wood. The red of the seeds gave me hope that maybe I could get a reddish brown or salmon pink. I only collected enough to dye a 20 gram mini skein as this was just for experimental purposes but theoretically, the more dyestock you have per weight of fibre the stronger the dye liquor and the resulting colour.

The handful you see in the photo is all I used to get the colour shown.

My process was to boil the Quondong seeds on and off for most of the day, topping up with water as it evaporated. The resulting colour was the lovely brownish red in the first photo above.
Second photo, I added some alum mordant to the pot and added the presoaked mini skein sock yarn, a blend of Merino and nylon.
Third photo, I decided to add some Iron to 'sadden' the colour and push it towards a darker brown/green and only put half the mini skein back in so that some was still the original colour of the first dye liquor.
The last photo, I then created a copper bath to brighten the colour and submerged half the skein with a little of the colour from the iron bath and a little of the colour from the alum bath resulting in a multi coloured skein of yarn.
Overall I'm pretty happy with the results. I didn't achieve the red I was hoping for as red is often destroyed by overheating the dyestock and these seed needed boiling to extract the colour, however I do like the lovely salmon pink and the darker olive tones and, as usual with natural dyeing, the colours all work together harmoniously to create a beautiful fabric in either a knitted or crochet piece.
I will be adding other natural dyeing experiments to my blog from time to time so check back occasionally and see what's here.
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