i was talking with nicola a little while ago about how i've never tried mushroom foraging or dyeing before because i'm so paranoid about accidentally trying toxic ones, and how i was hoping to try it out this year. then a couple of weeks ago, walking to work, i stumbled on a few big collections of mushrooms along the sidewalk and thought, well, if this isn't a sign, i don't know what is. so, after work, i grabbed my foraging basket and went out a-hunting! i got a healthy amount and then brought them home and immediately popped them into my dye pot (a very good decision, considering how many creepy-crawlies decided to come along for the ride). and just look at the result!
|undyed on the left, dyed and caked on the right. the difference is clearer in real life, but it is still a gentle colour.|
greys are one of the absolute hardest colours to achieve with natural dyes. you can get some incredible browns, and faded purples, and once i managed to get a silver-grey from the remnants of an exhausted logwood bath and black beans. and alkanet can give some gorgeous purple-based greys. but it's not easy. so i am over the moon that my super-local foraging (like, a three block radius from my front door) resulted in a colour that is my favourite non-colour, and such a gorgeous pearly shade to boot!
i did some research and determined that my new loves are mica caps. they pop up after rain, and very quickly disintegrate into a black goo. indeed, while i was gathering the mushrooms, which had popped up overnight, there were already clusters from the morning that had liquified. they grow from wood material, either rotting underground or along tree trunks and stumps. technically, they can be eaten, but even the scent of them boiling in my dye pot afterwards made me nauseous, so i think i'll stick with just the dyeing.
i've been gathering plans (and plants!) for a collection of small weavings dyed with different local foraged plants. and i also plan on doing small batches of limited edition yarns dyed with manitoban plants. that will become a more established thing once anna's fibre csa gets going next year. i actually can't think of anything more perfect for my nerdy fibreshed heart than yarn dyed with plants i've gathered by hand near home and made with wool spun nearby from my friend's sheep less than an hour's drive away. it is the ultimate dream to me.
|this is my new linen/silk blend, which i'm calling rumpelstiltskin. it won't be available until later this fall, but i'm already in love.|
in the meantime, i'll do some very limited dyeing with mushrooms on my current bases after the rain. if you'd like some of this extra special yarn and are ok with waiting, please feel free to shoot me an email and i'll send it to you the next time the mushrooms sprout. i think i'll be able to get a good shawl's worth of mushrooms each time (responsible foraging and all that), so the baths will be limited to 2-3 skeins. but i promise it will be the most perfect yarn when it's ready. and it will be oh so special.