Spinning a few yarns

Every aspect of mushroom dyeing and fibre preparation is a joy, and I could always use more time at these pursuits, but the ultimate pleasure, the end goal of all of this, is the spinning. I love to feel the smooth fibres slipping through my fingers as the wheel works its magic and twists them into a thread that winds onto the bobbin. If I’ve blended colours or fibres, it’s exciting to see how they come together into a single strand, and then how plying two or more strands results in a balanced yarn. As I wind the yarn onto my niddy-noddy, the length of it again slides through my hands, and when I’ve tied it into a skein, I get to fondle it once more. Who knew yarn could be so tactile, so sensual?

Two- and three-ply yarns
Two- and three-ply yarns

This yarn was the result of carding some blah colours into batts, which I then brightened up with some leftover bits of orange and gold. I spun this deliberately chunky and used two plies of this with one ply of straight Hydnellum green—the result ended up not blah at all. When I ran out of one strand of the chunky, I plied the other with what was left of the green; hence the smaller, greener skein that sits on top.

Dermocybe rose
Dermocybe rose

I love this colour, and until I fire up a few more dermocybe dyepots, this is all I have of it. I added texture by”stacking” a thin ply over the soft texture of a thick-and-thin ply.

Phaeolus gold
Phaeolus gold

I made this yarn from the results of several Phaeolus dyepots, combining shades of gold and green. The “icicle,” a synthetic product, picks up colours wonderfully and adds a bit of zing to the finished yarn.

Thrice-dipped yarn
Thrice-dipped yarn

I had fun with these skeins. I spun them from a soft white roving, my reliably go-to fibre, then dipped parts of them in each of three dyepots: dyer’s polypore (Phaeolus schweinitzii), lobster (Hypomyces lactifluorum), and Hydnellum aurantiacum. The colours overlapped quite nicely.

Now my spinning wheel is calling me.

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13 thoughts on “Spinning a few yarns”

  1. Time to begin watching for the mushrooms as we travel around. Here in Wyoming it is so much harder to find the dyers, but we do know the spots around the country where we can find them should we happen to be in the area. The Indian Paint Fungus is one of my favorite dyers….Echidontium Tinctorim……and should you happen to live, or be in the area South of Truckee, CA, look up the hillsides, and then up the trees. I am still using one that was huge, probabaly close to 10 lb. or more….I happened to see orange on the ground around a fallen pine. Normally they grow as high as 40 feet in the air. These also make wonderful paper, and such a color.
    Love the yarns you posted photos of. This summer will see some mushroom dyeing done at our major workshop in July. Need to start searching for folks who might just happen to have extra that I can purchase.

    1. I never take for granted the wonderful abundance to be found in the rainforest! But I have yet to find an Echidontium. Afraid I can’t offer any mushrooms for sale, though. I have a good supply of some, but I’m teaching at Maiwa in 2015 and need to keep some aside in case 2014 is a bad year. Happy mushroom hunting!

    1. I don’t have a lot of experience with other natural dyes, but mushroom colours are as wash-fast and light-fast as commercial colours, as long as the fibre has been premordanted. I don’t leave yarns or garments out in the direct sunlight, but mushroom colours I obtained several years ago are still vibrant.

    2. I have worked with mushroom dyes since the late 80’s, and Miriam Rice…….the Guru of Mushroom Dyeing….told me way back then that she had the dyes tested, and the scientists found that Mushroom Dyes are some of the strongest in the world, far surpassing most commercial dyes as well as most Natural Dyes. I have yarns, samples, garments from those long ago days and they are bright and beautiful even today. They are my favorite in the world of Natural Dyeing, and searching them out is as much a part of it as the actual dyeing itself. A very powerful color in a world full of colors……..

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