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.
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.