Preparing to dye with mushrooms.

Just before the sun hits the snow this morning:

I’m at the cabin for six days of rest and crafting. Yesterday I arrived here with Lillepoes and about 19 projects to work on. Knitting, sewing, spinning, embroidery.

Instead I’ve been doing some homework for a workshop Dyeing with Mushrooms I’ll attend at the beginning of February. This is Shetland Lambswool from LYS and wool studio De Schapekop:

I need to make these into 14 skeins of 25 grams and 5 of 10 grams. Then they need to be mordanted with alum. It has to happen this week because I won’t be seeing my dyeing pan or the alum after that. So here I was last night, skeining up the cakes, counting the rotations of my Louet winder.

The workshop at De Schapekop will be fun and interesting. This is the picture they show:
Lots of colours possible with mushrooms!

It’s a two day workshop, with mycologist (= professional mushroom-o-logist) Chiel Noordeloos. A mushroom expert who happens to love knitting and has brought these two fields together.

The first day we’ll dye yellow, green and orange-reds. The second day greys, purple and browns. At the end I’ll have 350 grams of dyed yarns. That’s a stranded vest!

I knew of dyeing yarn with mushrooms from Finnish dyer Leena Riihelä from webshop Riihivilla. They have locally spun Finnsheep yarns, all dyed with plants and mushrooms. Their mitten kitts are excellence! I’ve knitted three (and a half) of them.
 pic by Riihivilla

In Summer time they sell them on the market Kauppatori of Helsinki:
Willow Herb Mittens

My mittens, the first I ever knit:

They put so many yarn in one kit that I knit three mittens. The first one was too tight, you can see the difference in the first picture. There was enough yarn to knit two extra mittens. It was my first stranded project.

Here are some pictures of the finished product, I only took these last year, after 7 years of wear:

Still look good eh? I wear them often. When I made them I put the year on it, as it was the year I learned to knit.  Since then I wanted to date a knit each year but it’s only now that I did it again: the Wolop Advent-shawl has “2016” on it.

These are the Finsheep mittens I knit for my husband and my mother. All Riihivilla kits and they both still use them too.
robertmittsroz mitts

And here’s the kit I bought in 2011 and have knitted a bit on since then:

The light orange is mushroom dyed for sure! Since I bought this kit my colour preference has switched away from orange and I don’t think I’ll ever finish it. Which is something I feel guilty over because I’d really like another pair of Riihivilla mittens. Wonderful company, wonderful yarn. Finnsheep is in my top 3 of favourite breeds.

I wish I had bought the kit for this colourway instead:

Shipping costs are preventing me from ordering them now and have done so for years…
Instead I’m dreaming of visiting Finland one day. Buy the kit in person, on the market. Also see Finnish wool people. And try to find an old Finnish spinning wheel to take home, restore and use. I already have a Finnish slanty wheel and would love to have an old one. One used by a Finnish wool woman.

Back to dyeing with mushrooms. All colours above are done with plants and mushroom. The grey-green in my rose mitts is from mushroom. And the orange and pink in my mother’s mitts too, if I remember correctly.

Leena of Riihivilla keeps a very interesting blog about her dyeing:

Annakika is a dyer in Sweden with a beautiful Flickr account:

dagens skördResultat av svampfärgningen / Mushroom dyeing 16 juli 2012
Pics by AnnaKika who dyed these skeins with mushrooms (notes in Swedish)

Now I’m off to tie up some more skeins. Tea is gone, cake is gone. Let’s get to it.
The tying needs to be done in a certain way, so the dye fluid can reach every part of the yarn. For this dyers tie a string in a repeated figure 8 across the strands of the skeins.

Every skein has to be marked too, so I’ve put a wooden bead on them. And tied two knots in a string, should the bead break and go missing.

Lastly I’ve used a knot that is more easily loosened than a straight forward knot. Before putting the ends through the loop I run them once behind the “root”.

Here’s everything together: bead, figure 8 across the skein and a slightly modified knot at the end:

Also: this yarn contains spinning oil and I must be careful not to rub it on my face. I think I did it anyway because I had insomnia last night and I’ve not yet shaken off the brackish feeling that comes with that. A little walk outside first, I think. Than a snort of cat tummy. And then wool homework. Then wash hands and yarn and hopefully tonight peaceful dreaming of mushrooms.

Mushroom Garden pic by Nelo Hotsuma


2 thoughts on “Preparing to dye with mushrooms.

  1. How lovely! Both being away with Lillepoes (or, as I would say it, Lillepus) and all the fun with wool. Whenever I make it to Finland I now know what I need to bring back. In addition to some marimekko. 😆

  2. Ooh your mushroom workshop, so cool! I am curious about your experiences to come there. You just made me fell in love with those mitten kits, one day when I have mastered stranded knitting I will get one to knit!

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