One Sarcodon dyepot

This might have been a good year for Sarcodon fuscoindicus—Violet Hedgehog—had the spot where I can usually hope to find a dozen or more good specimens (which happens to be at the side of a logging road) not been covered by two feet of gravel when the road was graded to make the area more accessible to logging trucks. That, combined with what seems to be a disturbing trend toward longer, dryer summers, led to my having just six smallish ones to play with this year.

Colour from Sarcodon fuscoindicus

And play I did last week. The dyebath, using equal parts dried mushroom to fibre (in this case wool roving), yielded a lovely blue. This time something interesting occurred: I cooked the mushrooms for an hour in a fine mesh bag, let them sit in the dyebath overnight, strained them out, added the fibre, brought the temperature up slowly to 80 degrees C (about 180 degrees F) and held it there for about 45 minutes. When the wool came out of the dyebath the next day, I was surprised to find several spots of a much deeper blue. This might well have happened had I cooked mushrooms and fibre together, but here I can only surmise that a fine residue had settled to the bottom of the pot to create those darker splotches. If I had an unlimited supply of these Sarcodon, I’d make a highly concentrated dyebath and attempt to achieve that beautiful rich colour!

Even if I did, however, it’s unlikely the blue would retain its intensity forever. The little sample of greenish yarn on the left is some that I spun two years ago from wool that started out the same blue as the coil of fibre I have here. I’ve noticed this before with pieces I’ve knit from Sarcodon handspun— it’s best to savour the blue while it lasts, in expectation that it will eventually evolve into a pleasant, earthy green.

4 thoughts on “One Sarcodon dyepot”

  1. I’m sure it’s partly my old laptop screen causing the problem, but the entire photo has a blue gray green tint to it. i don’t see the blue or the green of the wool clearly. And, would love to see the died batch spun into yarn. I bet the variation in color depth will look cool. As for the color fading, I’ve heard that is typical with most natural dye plants.

    1. I had trouble adjusting the image so it would look on my screen as it looks in real life. The wool is a deep sky blue – the best way I can describe it – with light indigo splotches where the colour intensified. The green is definitely a blue-green, not the gold-green that Phaeolus gives on iron-mordanted wool. I’ll post a pic of the spun yarn when it’s done.

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