Tag Archives: mushroom dyes

Spinning Omphalotus


After the usual seasonal hiatus, when mushrooms lie dormant and the garden takes priority, I’m back to dreaming of mushroom dyepots and all the potential therein: I’ve found the first early dye mushrooms in the back forest! More about those later, but for now I’ve started spinning the gorgeous violets I obtained from the Omphalotus olivascens (see my post of May 12). With a bit of experimenting, I’ve discovered that a mild vinegar rinse (pH3) seems to set the colour—rinsing in plain well water took some of the violet out and left a grey, and a rinse in pH9 did even moreso (good thing I tried it with just a small sample.)

I haven’t yet rinsed any of this dyed wool—I’ll spin them first, then set colour and twist at the same time.

I’ve taken each piece of dyed roving and divided it in half, spinning from darkest to lightest (the colours each successive exhaust dyepot gave me). I’ll spin two bobbins in this way, then ply them together, with the end result being one yarn that starts with the lovely dark violet and ends with the lightest purple-grey. In time, I’ll turn this into a scarf or a shawl, depending upon how much I end up with.


One generous dyepot

Cortinarius sanguineus, one dyepot

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.

Immersed in golden dyepots

Phaeolus, three mordants

I’m finding so many beautiful dyer’s polypore this year, and the variations on gold are never-ending! I put these mordanted rovings in the dyepot together, knowing that the iron might affect the colours on the other two, which were mordanted with alum and copper. And it did, but not in a bad way. The colour produced by two good-sized clusters was so rich and strong that the iron’s “saddening” effect added some depth to the gold of the alum roving and to the rust brown of the copper one. (The iron roving is dark green.)

And then there’s the brilliant gold that took my breath away . . . this came from another two fresh clusters of dyer’s polypore, with enough pigment left over to have an exhaust dyebath (the wool on the right).

The best time of the year, without a doubt.

First dyebath, exhaust bath

Tapinella atrotomentosa (Velvet pax)

Velvet pax

Now I know it’s going to be a great mushroom season—I joined a friend this afternoon for a hike to Ambrose Lake, and right beside the trail we found a stump just overloaded with Velvet pax. (Note the fuzzy brown stems befitting its name. This mushroom is very easy to identify—it grows on old, mossy fir stumps or on the sides of mossy logs.) Unfortunately, my camera announced that its battery was gone, so I had to wait until I got home to take this picture.

The dried mushrooms on the right are from an earlier hike in our own back forest; the fresh ones on the left are from today’s hike. I counted twelve specimens, all from the same tree!

I’ll dry all the Velvet pax I find until the season is finished. This should be a marvellous dyepot!

What I’m spinning now

Two years’ worth of rovings

It’s time I started doing something about my stash – well, some if it, anyway – so I gathered up all the bits and pieces of roving that went through the dermocybe dyepots over the last two years.

I found I had two kinds of wool: soft, silky Merino (the pile on the left) and coarser Corriedale (right). The Merino, which felts more easily anyway, has a lot of little slubs throughout – if I dye with it again, I’ll have to be more careful not to move it around too much when it’s in the hot dyebath.

I hand-carded the wool, to open up the fibres and line them up for spinning.

My plan is to spin one bobbin of Merino and one of Corriedale, then ply them together, thus getting the best of both wools. I’ll put the colours together at random, so when the yarn is finished, it should be an interesting blend courtesy of the little Cortinarius that grow in the woods around us.