More Natural Dye

It’s been a frighteningly dry fall and winter so far which aside from the obvious problems, also means that mushrooms aren’t flourishing either. For Xmas, Colin got me David Arora’s two mushrooming books and so I had to head out to Mt. Tam after only one day of rain. It looked like other shroomers had beaten me to everything edible, but fortunately, I can be contented with collecting some of their color yielding cousins.


Among the treasures I picked up were a big basket full of more Phaeolus and a grocery bag of Omphalotus.

One cluster of Omphalotus

Another interesting find was an abundance of small coral fungus. I brought a couple samples home, but even after over an hour with my books was unable to positively identify the cool little shrooms. One thing that Arora notes in his book is the difficulty of identifying coral fungi. There are so many kinds which are microscopically distinct, but macroscopically indistinct that it is a challenge which the amateur mushroomer is unlikely to gain any proficiency in. Fortunately, this type of fungi are usually unpalatable, so I can be content to just admire their fascinating structures.

Unidentified Coral Fungus

After returning home with a dyer’s bounty, I immediately took to dyeing with my finds. See below for descriptions.

Naturally Dyed Fibers

From Left to Right:

  1.  Norwegian Wool dyed with Carrot tops in an Iron pot
  2. Merino Wool dyed with Carrot tops in an Iron pot
  3. Norwegian Wool dyed with Omphalotus exhaust and a small amount of Phaeolus in Aluminum pot with copper/vinegar mordant
  4. Merino Tencel Blend dyed with Omphalotus in Aluminum pot finished with copper-vinegar dip
  5. Norwegian Wool dyed with Omphalotus in Aluminum pot finished with copper-vinegar dip
  6. Norwegian Wool dyed with Omphalotus in Aluminum pot
  7. Merino Tencel Blend dyed with Omphalotus in Aluminum pot

First into the pot were the Omphalotus with some Norwegian Wool and Merino-Tencel Blend (Numbers 4 through 7). I was not satisfied with the muted color and hoped I could bring out more violet tones, so I added a few glugs of vinegar to my exhaust and set in some of the fiber (Numbers 4 and 5) for a couple hours at room temperature. I removed and rinsed to find that I had I had in fact changed the blue and violet tones to green greys. Not at all the change I was going for. As it turned out I had used the vinegar which had been made into a copper mordant by accident and the copper brought out the greens instead of the violets. The change was not drastic though, and I think I’ll be carding the two colors together for some variegation in my yarns.

The exhaust bath still seemed to have quite a bit of color in it, so I tossed in more Norwegian wool and left it to sit over night. The next day I put it over heat and tossed in a couple small crumbles of phaeolus for good measure. The product(Number 3) is actually much more of a saddened green than it appears in the image above.

The 2 other greens are also much richer than they appear in the photo, more of an olive color and only a shade darker than the Omphalotus exhaust bath, though these were achieved in a different way. At the produce store, I peeked into the big waste bins and spied three hefty bunches of carrot tops. Yay! I must have looked a little crazy, digging through the bin destined for compost to extract the sprigs of greenery that no one wants. At home I set them into my cast iron dutch oven with plain water. I heated the tops briefly, then left them to sit overnight. the next day, the pot had released a rusty film which coated the top of the liquid, and the leaves had turned almost black. the water was however still very pale which had me worried. I put my fiber into a nylon mesh bag and set the into the pot along with all the plant material. I then kept it at around 120°F for a full day(the whole apartment stank of overcook carrot, but we suffered through. I let the whole pot cool overnight and drained my fiber the next day. I rinsed it to find it had taken a gorgeous olive green with some dark spots where it had been touching the iron of the pot. I am very much lloking forward to spinning up this fiber!

Speaking of spinning, I’ve spun up some of my previous natural dye projects and will be adding them to my etsy this week.

All Natural

Starting on the bottom then moving clockwise: Phaeolus dyed faux cashmere from various batches, Phaeolus dyed faux cashmere plied with phaeolus and other stuffs dyed merino, and lastly Norwegian wool dyed with red cabbage(blue), pomegranate skins (cream) and pomegranate skin overdyed with cabbage and baking soda to adjust pH(yellow-green).


Ask and ye shall receive…

I have set myself a deadline and I’ll be damned if I disappoint anyone! Elfin hoods will be up on Etsy before Valentines Day. If there are any particular color combos or themes you’d like to see, drop a comment here and I’ll try to take it into consideration when I go fabric shopping and patterning this week.

New Year, New Obsession

Welcome back! It’s been a slow winter for the blog so far, but that’s because it’s been a busy winter out in the real world! I’ve been baking up a storm, making butter cookies, jam thumbprints and pumpkin pies as well as spending an ENTIRE day juicing freshly foraged green apples for a big batch of hard cider.

I’ve also been rifling through thrift stores to  start a collection of knit sweaters for my very own Dream Coat because Colin got a serger for Christmas! His family was incredibly generous and gave him a Baby Lock “Diana” which has been out in our living room since the 25th and we’ve had so much fun playing with it!

Since we had a bunch of leftover fleece sitting in the craft room, I decided I would come up with a cool hood pattern for it. I sat and drafted for a while and eventually came up with a beautiful Elfin Hood.

Elfin Hood made from fleece scraps

Elfin Hood made from fleece scraps

Elfin Hood

Elfin Hood back view

The top panel and scarf are pieces from fleece that had been sitting around at my mother’s for quite a while without any purpose while the dark brown side panels were cut from larger scraps left over from making cloaks earlier this year. Oh, and by the way, those leaves are pockets too!

I was so excited about the project, that the next day, I went right ahead and sewed another!

Fire Sprite Hood made from fleece scraps

Fire Sprite Hood and Gauntlets

I didn’t have any more of the larger scraps, so I used smaller ones to create “flames” and even made a set of matching gauntlets. I’m so thrilled with the product and I thoroughly enjoyed sewing these hoods, so I am considering producing a few more for sale on etsy within the next couple months.