Now this is violet!

Colour from Omphalotus olivascens
Colour from Omphalotus olivascens

After my first Omphalotus dyepot, which I’d done with our well water and which gave me mostly very nice greens, (see my post of April 18) I decided to use distilled water for my second (and last) dyepot. When the dyebath was almost at temperature (about 170 degrees F), I saw that my sample strands showed signs of violet, so I put my first piece of undyed wool in right away and left it for about 20 minutes, by which time it too was violet.

(I should mention that I generally leave the mushrooms to simmer in the dyepot while I do the exhausts, in case I can wring out a bit more pigment. I’ve discovered Tide lingerie bags—and no, this is not a product placement for any particular brand—which are made of the finest mesh, with a zippered closure. Using this, I can lift all the fibre out in one go, and I don’t have to deal with any leftover mushroom bits.)

I pulled the fibre out immediately, fearing that this colour might get dull if left to cook too long. After it had cooled, and without realizing what I was doing, I put the fibre into a bucket of (well) water and watched, in absolute horror, as the violet disappeared before my very eyes! The wool was a lovely steel grey, but grey was not what I was after.

I immediately put another piece of fibre into the pot, watched it carefully, and pulled it out when it was clearly going to be violet. This time I didn’t rinse it, and the colour remained. In fact, I got several more exhausts from this dyepot, the violets becoming progressively lighter, but definitely violet. I stopped when my last sample came out an undistinctive beige.

After the wool had dried, I rinsed a small sample in well water and another sample in a vinegar rinse—their colour doesn’t seem to have changed, but I’m nervous about rinsing the rest of the wool until I’m certain it’s safe to do so. Our well water tests high in calcium and silica, with a pH of 7.6—any chemists out there who can explain what’s going on?

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