Now this is strange . . .

Thanks to an abundance of spring rains, we’re seeing mushrooms a few weeks earlier than usual this year—we can only hope this bodes well for an exceptional season later in the year!

Tapinella atrotomentosa
Tapinella atrotomentosa

This gorgeous Tapinella atrotomentosa caught me quite by surprise a few weeks ago. The slugs had already nibbled on it a bit, so I cut off the largest cap, then tucked ferns and the spiky leaves of Oregon grape around the remaining little ones to give them a chance to grow. I took my treasure home, cut it into slices, and put it on the sunny deck to dry. My dearest used the oven that evening when making dinner (he cooks all our meals, which pleases me no end), so I popped the tray of almost-dry mushrooms into the still-warm oven after dinner.

Much to my dismay, my little strips of Velvet Pax looked over-dark the next morning; not exactly burned, but darker than I’d expected. What had I done? I usually don’t find enough of these to treat them so recklessly and callously! There was nothing for it but to put the sorry little bits in a test dyepot with a few strands of mordanted yarn, to gauge the damage.

Clearly I need to get back into the routine—I’d used a little glass pot, and even though I’d set the heat on medium-low, I turned my back for what seemed just a minute, only to turn back and find my little pot almost boiling over. I was sure I’d screwed it up completely.

Tapinella burned then boiledFB

But look what came out of the pot (from left to right: no mordant, alum, iron, copper)—does that not look blue to you?

The dye liquid, although a small amount, was still quite dark, so I popped in another test bundle and watched it this time, careful not to let it get over-hot. And this time the colours were more like what I would expect from a Tapinella pot allowed to overheat.
Tapinella burned exhaustFB

I hesitate to try and repeat these results on a larger scale, but if I find a good number of Tapinella this year, I may just have to.

It’s (past) time: crochet project starts now!

Yards and yards of silk
Yards and yards of silk

Some time ago—almost three years ago, in fact—I posted about my plans to knit a silk wrap. I didn’t mention at the time that I have an immovable deadline for this project: the Fungi & Fibre Symposium to be held here in Pender Harbour in October of this year. At this fabulous event, participants wait until the final gala dinner on the last evening to show off their new mushroom-dyed finery—lovely garments, clever hats, lustrous silk ties—items to be admired and marveled at for the rest of the evening.

So I convinced myself that I could make a crocheted silk wrap, the construction of which is far beyond anything I’ve ever managed before; the same can be said for the yardage requirements (2,000+ yards of finely spun silk).

I don’t think I’ve spun quite enough yet, but the project can wait no longer. I must get started if I’m to complete it by October 22. The swatch is still a bit heavy, so I may have to move to a larger crochet hook, but at least I know I can make sense of the pattern.

I’ll report as the wrap takes shape. Wish me luck.

Fungi & Fibre Registration Open!

H. peckii


The moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived: it’s time to register for the 17th Fungi & Fibre Symposium, October 17-22, 2016, in Madeira Park on BC’s Sunshine Coast. Just go to the Register page on the website, fill in the interactive form, then go back to the website to process your registration fee through PayPal.

Workshops will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, so those who register early will have the best chances of getting their preferred choices.

It’s going to be a grand event—do plan to attend.

Mushroom Dyeing in Estonia



My posts have been few this last little while—I’m putting most of my dyers aside for the Fungi & Fibre Sympsium and spending most of my available time setting things up for registration, which will open March 1. It promises to be such a grand event, in such a beautiful setting, and the excitement in our little community is building.

In the meantime, here’s a look at what we did in Estonia in 2014. fungimagwinter2015

People who come to one Symposium will never want to miss another, and I’m so looking forward to getting together with old friends and meeting new converts to this wonderful passion.

If you’re not yet on our mailing list, pop us an email at—we look forward to seeing you in October!


Fungi & Fibre Symposium, October 17-22

Symposium_image 200x255

It’s actually going to happen, and right here in Madeira Park on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia: the largest (and only) international gathering of mushroom dyers! We’ll spend a week hovering over dyepots, taking in interesting workshops, and exploring the lush trails of our West Coast rainforest.

Registration will open March 1. Our workshop lineup is almost complete; check it out on our website. If you’re not already on our mailing list, drop us a line at

A word of warning: once you attend one of the Symposia, you’ll never want to miss another!

A progression of lobster

Stages of Hypomyces parasitization
Stages of Hypomyces parasitization

If it seems like it’s been a while since I last posted . . . it has. Despite the dry summer, the mushrooms are coming out now, so most days we’re out scouting our favourite spots.

We discovered one particular patch of Lobsters (Hypomyces lactifluorum) two years ago and hadn’t been back since, but we decided to check it out this morning. Strangely enough, there were very few other mushrooms around, but our patch didn’t disappoint; we came home with a good ten pounds of the beauties, most of them already breaking apart. But that doesn’t matter to me—I’ll strip the coloured bits no matter how fragile or smelly their hosts might be.

And it was interesting to see the various stages of progression: from an uninfected Russula brevipes to one starting to show a bit of colour, to one in the full stages of orange.

My evening work is cut out for me—paring mushrooms! Now we’re certain to have a strong Lobster dyepot for next year’s Fungi & Fibre Symposium. (Have you marked your calendars yet? October 17-22, 2016, Madeira Park, BC.)

Phellodon blue . . . with a wrinkle

Blue from Phellodon atratus
Blue from Phellodon atratus

Some friends came over this week to do a couple of dyepots with some dried mushrooms still in my stash. I pulled out a bag of dried toothed fungi that had been sitting in a drawer for a couple of years. When I picked them, I thought they were some sort of Hydnellum, not realizing that in fact I’d collected a good bagful of Phellodon, probably P. atratus, given the amazing blue they gave to the silk scarves in the dypeot. (The mushrooms had soaked overnight in an ammonia solution, which brought the dyepot up to a pH of 10 when we were ready to cook.)

But something interesting happened in the dyepot: Where elastic bands had been used to do some quick shibori, the silk was a coppery brown. At first we thought this might have been a reaction to the rubber in the elastic, but then we noticed this brown showed more faintly where the silk had been tied in loose knots. This warrants more experimenting, for sure. I still have enough of the dried mushrooms for another dyepot, so this is turning out to be an exciting way to start another season of mushroom colours—but first I have to exhaust what’s left in the first pot (these mushrooms seem to be very generous with their pigment; the dye liquor was rich and dark).

This is why I love mushroom dyeing—the learning never stops!