A Year of Mushrooms

On the advice of a good fiberista friend, I signed up for a mushroom dyeing class last fall.  The class was taught by Alissa Allen of Mycopigments.  (Thanks for the hot tip, Erin).  I’ve learned much over the years with regards to natural dyeing, but I was clueless about mushrooms.  We harvested morels in North Idaho when I was a child, but dye mushrooms?  Who knew?!

Happily the class included a cheat sheet of dye mushroom species for my area.  The botanist in me was looking for specific ecosystem info to aid in locating.  Alas, the class was not helpful to me in that regard.  So what to do?  A bit of research is always helpful…..I made notes on my cheat sheet and read as much as I could find.  There is a great resource on FB, a group for mushroom and lichen dyers.  Even with all of this effort, it took awhile to locate dye mushrooms!

Also?  Experimenting helped.  I found other mushrooms that give dye that were not listed on my cheat sheet.  I put together a mushroom field kit using an old metal lunchbox.  It contains everything I need to test in the field (except the wee stove and butane cartridges).  I was bit by mushroom dyeing.  Hard.  I love walking through the woods and this gave me another excuse to do so.

I figure it will take a few seasons to locate my own favorite mushroom locations.  Mushroomers have such things and keep this info secret!

Here is my dyed wool collection for this year.  I never did locate the red corts, danged it.  Something for next year.  My plan is to spin singles and weave this in a color and weave, herringbone twill fabric for sewing a bag of some sort.





I had a plan.  It seemed quite sound at the time, I formulated said plan while I was still working.  It was a simple plan, actually: grow my tiny fiber business once I retired from my day job.  I had some ideas about how I was going to proceed.  Fast forward as it’s nearly been a year since I retired.  I’ve not updated my out of date website, I’ve not started the list I had made to grow my business.  I’ve done much soul searching to discover that growing my small business is not what I wish to do.  That was a bit of a surprise!

This revelation was following by a second thought: what the heck is it that I wish to do?  I’m still a bit uncertain about this. I’m not shutting down my small business…I will do some shows next year, but perhaps not as many.  I feel it’s time to change my focus.  I’ve been working exclusively with Pygora fiber since about 2002.  I love the fiber and those adorable goats!  But it’s time for me to stretch and grow.  What is my true passion? I do love weaving and am already falling down that rabbit hole…..and will continue to wallow for years in that rabbit hole…..but dyeing is my favorite.  Dyeing fiber, yarn or fabric…..it makes no matter.  I love dyeing with both synthetic and natural dyes.

So you will see Rainbow Farms Pygora around, but it will be a smaller percentage of my business.  The larger portion will now be Magpie Dye Studio.  I’m not certain which roads I will travel here, but I am certain it will be filled with much color!

A Day of Color

I started out today at the Delta, my Louet loom.  I dressed the loom in a combination of two very different colored yarns I hand dyed specifically for this purpose.  The design is a dead simple Fibonacci combo of three and uses the also super simple plain weave.  The star of this piece is the dyed warp….the cloth will be woven warp-faced to take advantage.  This piece will act as a test run for color placement.  I’m thinking hard about creating yarns like this to sell….mostly for warp purposes.  

This warp is very bright so I will use a dark gray weft to tone it down.  I left some tiny resist areas in the weft yarn during dyeing.  This gives interesting little blips in the cloth…I like them!

So that was my morning….not quite done with the scarf…..sigh…..and Spinzilla starts tomorrow!

I took an afternoon hike foraging for dye mushrooms.  I found a smallish dyers polypore

And the boletes are coming up!  Both the boletes and the polypore give nice yellow colors.

 I am still searching for the red corts, danged it!
Color, color, everywhere….

Brain Salad

Now that my free-wheeling spring and summer are over, it’s time to buckle down (in a creative way) and focus on what I wish to work on.  Sure, there is the Scottish tweed yardage…..but what else?  My brain keeps tossing about all kinds of things in one large jumble.  I’m struggling to focus and I’m not certain why.  It’s frustrating.  I need to identify my rabbit hole and begin to delve in….is it natural dyeing?  Painting warps? Eco dye combined with natural dyeing?  Weaving yardage? Surface design in fabric for sewing?  Maybe I need to fiddle about with each of these and find which one calls my name.  Ugh, super frustrated!

Great Scot!

I subscribe to VAV weaving magazine and a couple of issues back they published several articles about Scottish tweeds.  The timing of this issue could not have been better as I was waist-deep in planning a three week journey to the highlands of Scotland with me mum.  As much as I would’ve liked, I could not squeeze Lewis and Harris into our itinerary.  The Isle of Skye, however, was another matter.  This was exciting because of all the tweeds photographed for the VAV articles, I fell in love with the photo of a single tweed swatch.  Actually not only the photo, but I fell in love with the swatch.  I just HAD to get this yardage, or even a wee sample.  This glorious swatch was created by Andrea and Roger of Skye Weavers.  Holy warp, I could visit them!  They weave in a small cottage up in the northwest bit of Skye.

Suddenly I had this Idea bubbling in my head: I’ve a beautiful Cheviot fleece from WA state that I could dye using natural dyes.  I could spin fine singles.  Cheviot is a Scottish breed of sheep!  And I could create my own yardage…not exactly the Skye design because that is theirs…..but I could produce my own, very similar fabric.

I think I’ve finished pounding out the design using a combination of I-weaveit and Fiberworks.  I feel a bit cross eyed now, but I’m fairly certain I’ve a design that I like.  Each weft pick will be a different color, involving 5 colors.  Gulp.  I may fiddle this down to four colors…a bit more manageable.

A Fresh, New Beginning

Ah, my poor, ignored blog….it’s been six quiet years since I’ve posted anything here….I ran out of oomph with big changes in my day job and I left you sleeping for many years.

But Now!  Now I’ve retired from the day job that was eating away my life.  And since retiring in January, I’ve been wallowing in all kinds of free time to explore what I wish.  This exploration has gone in several directions: some I knew would occur….some a bit of a surprise.

But here I am, ready to restart my blog, sharing in my creative journeys…through the interesting and the calamitous!