brightening up the winter with mushroom dyes
I have been having lots of fun experimenting with mushroom dyes the last few weeks, both at the annual fiber arts classes at SOMA camp, and at home.
The mushrooms that I have been dyeing with are Dermocybe spp. (pink to orange), Omphalotus olivascens (purple and green) and Gymnopilus spp. (yellow).
I finally learned how to get a reliable lavender with Omphalotus olivascens by adding a splash of vinegar to the dye bath. And with the same mushroom I got gorgeous greens by adding iron water to the dye bath. (By iron water I mean water from a jar that I keep filled with old rusty objects, water and vinegar for an iron rich liquid.) Several of the green yarns in the photo below were small skeins of a boring tan or light gray color that I over dyed, so I got quite a nice range of greens.
Last fall I found some Pisolithus tinctorius and got great shades of gold and brown on wool and silk.
It has been a very dry winter here, so I’m not sure how mushroom hunting will be for the rest of the season, but yesterday some friends and I were lucky in finding a fair amount of Dermocybes (now recategorized as Cortinarius), both the red variety and the gold variety. I decided to dry these for use later in the year, so I spread them out on some small window screens and have propped them over the heater vents. My house currently smells a bit like mushroom soup. Yum!
I am building up a nice stash of mushroom dyed yarns, so I look forward to some knitting projects soon. Some of the brighter colors will probably become accents in projects made with natural colored yarns.