Lobster dyepot

Lobster mushroom with coin for perspective
Lobster mushroom (with quarter to indicate size)

I’m fortunate that I know of several patches of lobster mushrooms just minutes from our back door, and I also have friends who are happy to collect them for me.

Parings of lobster mushrooms, dried and ready to use
Parings of lobster mushrooms, dried and ready to use

I pare off the orange bits and eat the white flesh if it’s still fresh. However, I found that the older lobsters that were already going mushy had even more red in their parings. All the peeled bits went into a pan that was set next to our woodstove, adding a most fishy aroma to our house for as long as it took for them to dry. Could this be why they’re called lobster mushrooms?

Lobster mushroom dyepot
Lobster mushroom dyepot

Once I had enough parings (one and a half 750-ml yogurt containers), it was time to put them into the dyepot.  To keep the bits from getting into my fibre, I put them into sections of old pantyhose (does anyone wear these anymore?), tied the ends up, and boiled them for a short while. It doesn’t take long for the colour to appear.

Scarf dyed with lobsters straight out of the dyepot
Scarf dyed with lobsters straight out of the dyepot

Here’s a silk scarf (premordanted with alum) that came out of this dyepot – a brilliant peachy orange colour.

Lobster scarf with alkaline/acid pH shift
Lobster scarf with alkaline/acid pH shift

And here’s the same scarf after I had some pH fun with it: I set up two  squirter bottles, one with a vinegar solution at pH3, the other with a washing soda solution at pH11. Then I spritzed the ends of the scarf. The vinegar enhanced the orange, while the washing soda brought out the purple in the colour.

Lobster-dyed roving with vinegar and soda afterbaths
Lobster-dyed roving with vinegar and soda afterbaths

I did the same with some merino roving (also premordanted with alum). The vinegar bucket is on the left; the washing soda on the right.

Rovings from the lobster dyepot
Rovings from the lobster dyepot

Here are the colours that resulted from this glorious dyepot. I really liked the effect of the washing soda afterbath, so I dipped an entire piece of roving (top left) into that bucket.

This skein was premordanted with iron.
This skein was premordanted with iron.

This is  a skein I’d premordanted with iron, and I dipped each end in the pH buckets.

Finished lobster scarf
Finished lobster scarf

An interesting discovery: I submerged a silk scarf in the washing soda bucket with the intention of  “decorating” it with some vinegar spritzes. My first attempt at spritzing was less than desirable, so with a what-do-I-have-to-lose gesture, I threw the scarf back into the washing soda bucket. Surprise! It turned purple again! It took me three successive tries before I finally achieved some results I was happy with.

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2 thoughts on “Lobster dyepot”

  1. Thank you for starting a new dye blog!
    It’ll be nice to read about your dyeing and your season for mushrooms is longer than what it is here in Finland.
    best wishes
    Leena

  2. hi…
    very very very intresting.
    I am student of dyeing in carpet university in iran. I I like to contact you.
    our blog is in persian… I think you can’t read it.
    continue your work

    S.J.H

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