Spinning something yellow

Sulfur tuft roving

In the world of natural dyeing, pale yellow is almost something to yawn at – it’s so easy to get with any number of grasses, leaves and weeds. However, the sulfur tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare, formerly Naematoloma fasciculare) is one of the first dye mushrooms to appear in the fall, usually in early September, so I love to get a dyepot of its good, fresh colour going as a start to the dyeing season. I’ve tried letting the mushrooms dry and also leaving a fresh dyepot to sit for a week or two, and in both cases, the colour became more drab and less exciting.

Another reason I love this little mushroom is because it’s the one Miriam Rice threw into a dyepot some forty years ago, merely out of curiosity if it would give any colour (she’d been experimenting with other natural dyes, but never with mushrooms). Fortunately for us, she’d picked a cluster of sulfur tufts, one of the few mushrooms that does give a good colour. Had it been one of the many fungi that give a nice mushroom brown, I, and many others, probably wouldn’t be dyeing with mushrooms today!

This is some sulfur tuft roving I dyed last fall, and this ply will be the wrapping for a spiral or boucle yarn.

Sulfur tufts

2 thoughts on “Spinning something yellow”

  1. I picked some today; just cooked them, and plan to let sit overnight, strain in the morning, and hold the dyebath for dyeing on Saturday at the Fryeburg Fair in Fryeburg, ME.

    Is this a mistake? Should I put yarn in now? Mordant? (I don’t usually dye at home, I’ve access to a dye kitchen at least once a week, so work there.)

    1. I’m guessing you’ll still get a clear yellow on Saturday, especially if you can keep the dyebath in a cool place. I premordant with alum for these mushroops, but if you have some samples of iron- or copper-mordanted, you could put those in, too, to see what you get. You’ll have to take some pictures of your results.

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