Spring! (what a lovely thought)

The last few months have been a fallow time for me, planned and prepared for. A dear friend needed some space to be alone for a while, and I needed a push to get my studio space organized. The cottage where I do my dyeing and other stuff started out as a B&B (dog-friendly), so it was already set up for someone to stay there comfortably.

I started by packing up all the wool I’d accumulated over the years, and I was embarrassed to find that I had so much. So I adopted the mantra we use when looking through our closets: If I haven’t touched it in two years, it’s time for it to go. The timing was perfect, as my wonderful fibre group (Sunshine Cost Spinners and Weavers) has an annual Stash Day every January, when people bring things they no longer want or need. This is how I obtained much of my fibre when I was starting out.

I had so many bits and pieces of things I no longer wanted – for example, I had lovely wicker baskets throughout my space, filled with skeins of handspun, silk scarves, and wool waiting to be dealt with. The problem was, all of this had been sitting in baskets for too long and was starting to look tired, in my eyes anyway. Everything has now gone to good homes.

I packed away most of my dyeing supplies, and found I still had many little brown bags containing dye mushrooms, some from as long ago as 2014. I will use these over the next few months because I want to go into the 2018 mushroom season with a clean slate.

In the meantime, I have a confession to make. First, I must explain that at the International Fungi & Fibre Symposium (wonderful people, all), we keep the focus on mushroom colours because we are the only group anywhere that is dedicated to this pursuit. So it’s with some trepidation that I have to reveal this: I have been flirting with botanical printing, rusting, and – most exciting – making kombucha scoby into clothing (more to follow). And . . . I’m combining these fibre treatments with mushroom colours. I’m no longer a purist, but the lack of mushrooms in 2017 has forced me to look at other ways of using what Nature gives us, and it’s all good. Rest assured that anything I take for display at the next Symposium will have mushroom colours and no others.

But here’s how I justify these pursuits: everything we do relies on the presence of fungi in some capacity. The botanicals I use in eco-printing rely upon the fungi that work in our soils. There must be some role for fungi in the rusting process, and I know fungi play an important role in the production of kombucha. (Scoby stands for Symbiotic Combination Of Bacteria and Yeast—yeast belongs to the kingdom of fungi.) So I might be expanding my area of creative play, but in no way am I eliminating mushroom colours. I am so looking forward to Norway in August, and I can’t wait for what I believe will be a memorable mushroom season.

One consequence of The Big Clean was the realization that I had way too much handspun yarn. I had to find a way to deal with this, and here’s the result.

Wrap knitted from leftover mushroom-dyed handspun.


This garment—l’enveloppe, designed by Sally Melville and available on Ravelry— has to be seen at several different angles to understand its construction. The pattern was for a much smaller shrug in finer wool, but I decided to use a different handspun for each row (with the occasional row of silk cord tossed in) and just follow the instructions, knowing the final garment would be much larger than the pattern had intended.

It’s turned out to be very warm on these cool spring days (you’ll see that the tulips haven’t opened yet)—but I still have bags of leftover handspun to deal with!

6 thoughts on “Spring! (what a lovely thought)”

  1. Thanks for the fessing-up. No guilt trip should ever be solo in the realm of fungi and fibres. Wish the Sunshine Coast was closer to allow a visit to your January event. Must be immensely therapeutic. Enjoy Norway. I won’t be joining in as my mother needs some added help but no one is complaining. I have a wonderful mom. Sincerely, Loretta Marie Willard Sent from my Jitterbug

  2. Your “garment” is beautiful! Easy to shrug on & off & looks very warm. I have recently returned to knitting after a long hiatus. Loving it! The connection with shrooms is great. Thanks for blogging about your passion. Purging is a very freeing thing. Keep it up.
    Pulp Paper & Pigment-My Fiber Art Blog

    1. Thanks for your kind comments. The piece is easy to wear, and it was interesting to construct. The design is by Sally Melville – l’enveloppe. I’ve just signed up to follow your blog – what beautiful images!

  3. Love what you did with the mushroomdyed handspun. I think I made this same pattern (was it L’envelope or something close?) and I like your larger version even better than what the pattern called for. The construction is unusual, but your subtle striping makes the most of it!

    1. Thank you. Yes, it was the l’enveloppe pattern, and I intended to give credit to the designer, but had trouble finding it on Ravelry last night when I was writing the blog. I’ve found her now – Sally Melville – and will amend my post. As I was working through the pattern, I had no idea how it was going to be constructed or what part of the garment I was working on, but in the end it came together. I love how all the mushroom colours go together!

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