And that’s how we wish all our accidents to be, right?
The colours that resulted on this wool roving were not at all what I expected, and at first inexplicable. After all, this came out of a Hydnellum aurantiacum dyepot, a mushroom I usually rely on to give a pleasant bluish green. And I had done everything right: a generous 2:1 ratio of mushrooms to fibre (1:1 will usually suffice, but this year I can afford to be generous), cooked at pH 10 (raised with the addition of ammonia) from which the sample strands emerged beautifully green, left to cool overnight, strained, then wool added, temperature brought up slowly to 160 degrees F, then cooled overnight with the wool still in the dyebath.
Mystified, I went through the mental dyeing process again, until the Aha moment struck. I like to contain the dye mushrooms in a mesh bag, my favourite being a fine nylon lingerie bag because the nylon doesn’t pick up the colour. Except . . .
In May of this year, I finally screwed up the courage to use the small bag of Cortinarius sanguineus I had obtained at the 2018 Fungi & Fibre Symposium in Norway. These are such precious little guys, and I was saving them until I finished spinning some local grey wool into yarn. I popped the lovely dermocybes into my handy nylon bag, then into the pot. I was surprised at the orange tones from the first and subsequent dyebaths, having expected a deep red in both the grey yarn and the white roving.
But I accepted this as one of the quirks of the trade, spun up the rest of the wool and made a little cape for my granddaughter, whose colouring can handle these orangey shades. I rinsed the bag (or so I thought) and put it away until fall and the next mushroom dyeing season.
The Hydnellum were everywhere this year, and were my first dyepot of the season. Without thinking, I popped the mushrooms into the yellow bag . . . well, you know the story from there. The roving that was in contact with the nylon must have picked up its colour, while the part that wasn’t kept the green I was expecting. And while it’s not what I would have chosen, it should make for an interesting variegated yarn when I do spin it up, and I’m thinking it will ply nicely with some Phaeolus green wool that I’ve been wondering what do do with.
And that’s why I never tire of dyeing with fungi.