While my dyepots are finished for this season, the spinning continues. I’m working on the merino from the multiple exhausts of the beautiful little Cortinarius sanguineus—all the mushrooms went in at once, and I put the wool through successive dyepots until the colour was more or less gone (see my post of February 9). I’ll have four good bobbins of singles, which I plan to then chain-ply, or Navajo ply, which will result in a three-ply yarn without any waste.
Because I plan to crochet with this yarn, I’m spinning the singles in a counterclockwise direction, to be plied clockwise. I have no idea how many yards I’ll end up with, but because I want to make a shawl with it, I’ll choose a pattern that will allow me to continue until I run out of yarn.
This was one of the more fun yarns I’ve spun recently—I combined on my drumcarder several colours that resulted from my various Dyer’s Polypore (Phaeolus schweinitzii) dyepots over the season (samples are taped to the white paper). Then as I spun, I added bits of “icicle,” a shiny synthetic fibre that really pops the colour, to give the yarn a bit of glint. It doesn’t show up that well in the photos, but it’s just enough to add some sparkle.
The wool is all merino, leaving the two-ply yarn with a lovely, soft hand. Another skein to fondle!
I saved the best for last—my collection of dried Cortinarius sanguineus, which didn’t look like much on the face of it, but look at all the colour they gave me! I put all the dry mushrooms into an old stocking, boiled it up for a couple of hours, then left that in the dyepot for all the exhausts. The first dyebath is on the left (with one iron-mordanted roving—the darker one), and progressive exhausts go from left to right. The bright orange on the far left is “icicle,” a sparkly synthetic fibre that always picks up amazing colour.
I’m going to use this to spin one yarn, going from darker to lighter—this mushroom is too special to blend it with anything else.
Even though my dyepots are still going strong, it’s time to start spinning the mass of fibre accumulating around the house. The first yarn of the season, which I’m spinning now, will be a blend of these three colours.
I’m preparing the fibre on my handcarders as I go, making some rolags of one colour and some with two colours blended. This merino cards up so beautifully—it’s a dream to spin.
I finished these pieces just in time for a jewelry exchange among members of our spinners’ and weavers’ guild. To make the necklace, I twisted three “ropes” of a chunky thick-and-thin handspun made of wool I’d dyed with a Hydnellum (H. aurantiacum, I think, but I need to confirm that when those mushrooms are out again this fall). Then I let three of these ropes twist back on themselves, resulting in a thick cable. I bound each end of the ropes with thread, then attached a clasp and mushroom paper beads for a closure. The earrings are also made of mushroom paper beads.
I’m particularly pleased that this soft green is the perfect colour for the person whose name I drew, and I hope she’s pleased with it, too.
This is such a soft, rich green. I found a good number of Hydnellum aurantiacum in the fall, enough for quite a large dyepot. I put a succession of rovings through three exhausts, then spun them into textured yarns, using the various shades of the same colour.
I’d read that shifting the pH to the alkaline side on this one can sometimes result in a blue, but I had no such luck. In fact, even at pH 11, I noticed little difference in the colours.
I have plans for this skein, involving a secret gift exchange among members of my spinners’ and weavers’ guild, but that’s all I’m going to say for now.
In the world of natural dyeing, pale yellow is almost something to yawn at – it’s so easy to get with any number of grasses, leaves and weeds. However, the sulfur tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare, formerly Naematoloma fasciculare) is one of the first dye mushrooms to appear in the fall, usually in early September, so I love to get a dyepot of its good, fresh colour going as a start to the dyeing season. I’ve tried letting the mushrooms dry and also leaving a fresh dyepot to sit for a week or two, and in both cases, the colour became more drab and less exciting.
Another reason I love this little mushroom is because it’s the one Miriam Rice threw into a dyepot some forty years ago, merely out of curiosity if it would give any colour (she’d been experimenting with other natural dyes, but never with mushrooms). Fortunately for us, she’d picked a cluster of sulfur tufts, one of the few mushrooms that does give a good colour. Had it been one of the many fungi that give a nice mushroom brown, I, and many others, probably wouldn’t be dyeing with mushrooms today!
This is some sulfur tuft roving I dyed last fall, and this ply will be the wrapping for a spiral or boucle yarn.
These colours came from varieties of Cortinarius semisanguineus, mushrooms that look like LBMs (little brown mushrooms) from above, but whose brilliant red, orange and gold gills attest to the pigments they contain. After saving two years’ worth of dye experiments, it was time to spin them up. I’d used two kinds of wool – Merino and Corriedale – and separated them out, easily done by feel. I spun the Merino first, shown here on the bobbin, then spun the Corriedale on another bobbin. Colours always look brighter in unspun fibre; spinning and plying soften them somewhat.
I plied the two bobbins together into a textured yarn, enough for two skeins. With some Merino left on the bobbin, I Navajo-plied it to get a three-ply yarn with distinct colour breaks.
The last of this year’s dermocybes are simmering now in my slow cooker, and I’m dyeing silk with them. I’m saving the Cortinarius sanguineus to the end, as the colour is sure to be spectacular, although on the silk it won’t be as brilliant as if I were dyeing wool.
CELEBRATING THE BEAUTY OF SUNSHINE COAST MUSHROOMS