With eco dyeing in mind I designed and knitted a lovely wool romper fit for a Melbourne winter. I have dabbled in eco dyeing with plant materials for some time now since stumbling upon India Flint's book Eco Colour but most of my experimentation has been with cotton fabric which doesn't take dye as readily as animal fibres like wool and silk so I really wanted to play about with some wool and see what effects I could come up with.
As it's my first time knitting something this complex from my own pattern there is inevitably some tweaking that needs to be done with the pattern but for the most part you can't notice any of the things that are slightly off. I did get a head start with my pattern by grabbing a few numbers from a similar pattern so that I had a place to start and I could be fairly certain that I wouldn't have to undo all my knitting to change things along the way. Here's Miss Mio in her romper before it's had its dip in the dye bath.
The weather has been quite stormy here in Melbourne so I knew I would be able to find myself some leaves from windfalls somewhere nearby which is more sustainable than picking leaves from the tree. I was right, I found a great big branch freshly fallen in the park near our house.
Some of the leaves we collected, ready to be rolled up in the fabric.
Tightly rolling the leaves into the cloth.
All rolled up ready to tie.
I wrapped a piece of cotton around the bundle and tightly tied it together with some cotton yarn to hold everything firmly in place. Ready for the dye pot!
I steamed the bundle in a big pot for about 1.5 hours during which it filled the house with the beautiful, almost citronella scent of eucalyptus. I made sure to open a couple of windows (yes, even on a chilly winter night) so the scent didn't get too strong. I then let the cloth cool in the pot overnight.
It's super exciting unraveling the bundle, you never know how it's going to turn out.
I put the romper in the washing machine to spin as it was quite wet and then flattened it out to dry. The longer you leave the fabric before it's first wash the better as you are giving the dye time to cure.
I'm really happy with how it turned out, it's earthy, gorgeous, warm and sustainable.