Mushrooms and More

by | Nov 1, 2018 | Uncategorized

In late October the farm fields may be full of pumpkins but the woods are full of mushrooms and that calls for a mushroom festival.  You may know mushrooms for their culinary or mind expanding(?) properties but they are valued for other uses as well.  If you enjoy dyeing with natural materials, mushrooms should be on your list of collectables.


dyer’s mushroom

The show and tell portion of our monthly meeting involved mushrooms and more.  The photo to the right shows a clump of Phaeolus schweinitzi which is often referred to as the dyer’s mushroom.  It produces a lovely range of muted shades including pale yellow, golds, orange/gold mixtures and rich browns.  The final colour depends on many factors, including the condition of the fungus itself, the mordants involved, the water used for the dye bath, timing and the yarn.  The final colour of the fibre can be surprising which is why dyeing with natural materials is so interesting.

natural dyes from the garden

Dyers will try to get colour out of anything that grows including flowers from the garden and beets from the kitchen which often leads to experiments with small amounts of fibre.  What to do with those dye samples?? Natural dyed yarns blend well together because they all tend to have an earthy quality.  Simple structures like the woven wool bags pictured below are perfect for using up small quantities of dyed yarn.

natural dyed wool made into bags

And now for the “more” part of the show and tell.
different weft colours


Fibre-reactive dyes can be used to paint a warp made from cellulose based fibres.  The warp is wound as usual and dyed before it goes on the loom.  While you may have more control with these chemical dyes there is still the same anticipation when you wash the cured yarn and see how the colours have moved and blended together.  The weft colours come into play during the weaving.  Dramatically different cloth can be produced using the same painted warp. 

There is a story behind the striped scarf below.  It is a story of perseverance or just plain stubborn refusal to give up when things go dreadfully wrong.  The weaver estimates that at minimum wage the labour cost for this scarf is around $2,000.   More time spent undoing and redoing than doing in the first place.  After a while it just becomes a battle of wills, the yarns versus the weaver and in this case the weaver won out in the end. 

Ginny’s labour intensive scarf

Our members are busy getting ready for our sale, Elegant Threads which takes place on November 23rd and 24th in Qualicum Beach.  For more information see the sidebar.  Some of the pieces shown or similar items will be in the sale.  The number of pieces brought to the meeting suggests there will be plenty to see and buy.

tea towels ready for the sale


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