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Fungi & Fibre Symposium, October 17-22

January 13, 2016

Symposium_image 200x255

It’s actually going to happen, and right here in Madeira Park on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia: the largest (and only) international gathering of mushroom dyers! We’ll spend a week hovering over dyepots, taking in interesting workshops, and exploring the lush trails of our West Coast rainforest.

Registration will open March 1. Our workshop lineup is almost complete; check it out on our website. If you’re not already on our mailing list, drop us a line at fungiandfibre2016@gmail.com.

A word of warning: once you attend one of the Symposia, you’ll never want to miss another!

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A progression of lobster

October 26, 2015
Stages of Hypomyces parasitization

Stages of Hypomyces parasitization

If it seems like it’s been a while since I last posted . . . it has. Despite the dry summer, the mushrooms are coming out now, so most days we’re out scouting our favourite spots.

We discovered one particular patch of Lobsters (Hypomyces lactifluorum) two years ago and hadn’t been back since, but we decided to check it out this morning. Strangely enough, there were very few other mushrooms around, but our patch didn’t disappoint; we came home with a good ten pounds of the beauties, most of them already breaking apart. But that doesn’t matter to me—I’ll strip the coloured bits no matter how fragile or smelly their hosts might be.

And it was interesting to see the various stages of progression: from an uninfected Russula brevipes to one starting to show a bit of colour, to one in the full stages of orange.

My evening work is cut out for me—paring mushrooms! Now we’re certain to have a strong Lobster dyepot for next year’s Fungi & Fibre Symposium. (Have you marked your calendars yet? October 17-22, 2016, Madeira Park, BC.)

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Phellodon blue . . . with a wrinkle

August 30, 2015
Blue from Phellodon atratus

Blue from Phellodon atratus

Some friends came over this week to do a couple of dyepots with some dried mushrooms still in my stash. I pulled out a bag of dried toothed fungi that had been sitting in a drawer for a couple of years. When I picked them, I thought they were some sort of Hydnellum, not realizing that in fact I’d collected a good bagful of Phellodon, probably P. atratus, given the amazing blue they gave to the silk scarves in the dypeot. (The mushrooms had soaked overnight in an ammonia solution, which brought the dyepot up to a pH of 10 when we were ready to cook.)

But something interesting happened in the dyepot: Where elastic bands had been used to do some quick shibori, the silk was a coppery brown. At first we thought this might have been a reaction to the rubber in the elastic, but then we noticed this brown showed more faintly where the silk had been tied in loose knots. This warrants more experimenting, for sure. I still have enough of the dried mushrooms for another dyepot, so this is turning out to be an exciting way to start another season of mushroom colours—but first I have to exhaust what’s left in the first pot (these mushrooms seem to be very generous with their pigment; the dye liquor was rich and dark).

This is why I love mushroom dyeing—the learning never stops!

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Dye Mushrooms on the Sunshine Coast

August 23, 2015
Sarcodon fuscoindicus

Sarcodon fuscoindicus

With plans well under way for the 2016 Fungi and Fibre Symposium to be held in Madeira Park next October, I’m enlisting members of my mushroom club (and anyone else who wants another excuse to go out foraging in the forest) to start collecting the dyers now. So I’ve made a list of the dye mushrooms I expect to find in the next few months, once our usual autumn rains materialize (predicted for the end of next week!). Just go to The Mushrooms page on the right.

And keep an eye out for Symposium updates—on this site, on the Fungi & Fibre website, or like our page on Facebook. Mark your calendars now: October 17-22, 2016.

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Petrichor: my new favourite word

July 26, 2015

Doesn’t the air smell wonderfully fresh after a new rain following weeks of dry weather? That’s called petrichor, and I filled my lungs with it this morning after hearing the welcome sounds of rain on the roof overnight. We didn’t get enough moisture to make much difference to the parched soil and dry moss, but maybe the mycelia below soil level were also heartened by the promise of the rainy season’s return.

Now I’m spinning up what bits of yarn are left from last year’s dyepots, and finally decided to do something with the Pycnoporellus roving I showed in my previous post. I needed to pop up the colour a bit, so decided to use a bright piece of wool that came out of a Cortinarius cinnamomeus dyepot, along with a vibrant chunk of synthetic fibre that went through the dyebath at the same time (the two sections on the far left).

C. cinnamomeus colours

C. cinnamomeus colours

It didn’t take much time to run it all through my handcarders, then I spun two strands of thick-and-thin, to give the skein some texture. I normally don’t like orange—probably because I can’t wear anything resembling that colour—but blending it with the warm peach resulted in another skein I love to fondle.

Pycnoporellus skein

Pycnoporellus skein

Now I’ll take any amount of petrichor that wants to come our way, as long as it means some real rain in the near future.

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There’s hope yet . . . another mushroom season begins

July 1, 2015

Like the rest of North America’s West Coast, we’ve had an exceptionally dry spring and early summer. Flowers, birds, berries—they’ve all been a few weeks early this year, and everything is scarily dry.

I’ve been away for three weeks and on my return was hesitant to go out into my Back 40, knowing the moss would be crunchy and the ground dry. But I needed my forest therapy (after a glorious but noisy and crowded holiday in Sicily), so out I went with Rica, my fantastic flying puppy.

And what should I find, in a spot where I’ve never found this mushroom before:

Velvet Pax - first of the year

Tapinella atrotomentosa – first of the year

Drying already

Velvet Pax – drying already

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(I did find a few of these Velvet Pax at this time last year, but we’d had a cool, rainy June. I certainly didn’t expect to find it in our current conditions. Usually they appear in late July through September.)

This was on its own in open sun (growing out of wood under the moss), already getting parched. Down the hill, at the base of a shady stump where I’ve found these mushrooms in previous years, was another clump that still looked as if they had some growing to do, so I’ll keep an eye on them for now. My other usual spots haven’t revealed anything yet.

Along the trail, farther along, is my nurse log for Pycnoporellus fulgens. Even though I don’t get a striking colour from these, and I usually need two years’ worth of collecting to make one dyepot, I’m always happy to see them, as they are (usually) the first harbingers of mushroom season.

Pycnoporellus fulgens

Pycnoporellus fulgens

 

Pycnoporellus fulgens

Pycnoporellus from above

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve never seen this fungus in such a huge cluster before—this one is about four inches wide. Usually it appears as a single fan, perhaps in tiers (see my post from 2009 when I first realized what it was). As always, I’ll leave this to dry over the summer and start a new stash until I have enough for another pastel dyepot.

Peach from Pycnoporellus fulgens

Peach from Pycnoporellus fulgens

I feel mushroom fever creeping into my brain!

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Maiwa Textile Symposium, 2015

April 3, 2015

 

Maiwa Calendar 2015

Maiwa Calendar 2015

I feel honoured and privileged to have been invited to teach a workshop on mushroom dyeing at Maiwa this year.

Maiwa (pronounced MAY-wah) supports traditional craft, through an ethical business model, in the trade of embroidered, block-printed, handwoven, and naturally dyed textiles (mainly with India, but also with several other areas). Their dedicated staff seek out quality workmanship, and they do what they can to educate the purchasing public about the cultures, co-operatives, and lives of the artisans.

Every year, beginning in September and carrying on into November, Maiwa holds its Textile Symposium, with lectures, exhibitions, seminars, and workshops covering all manner of topics related to the fibre arts. Their teaching facilities are first-rate (Classroom space! Dyepots of all sizes! Heated drying racks! Extractors to remove smelly fumes! Assistants!) and their staff exceptionally helpful and efficient.

If you get a chance, visit one of their locations in Vancouver: their main store and Maiwa Supply, both on Granville Island, and Maiwa East at 1310 Odlum. Not only will you find garments, fabrics, and accessories, it’s also the go-to place for dyeing supplies and information. The shop at Maiwa East is filled with furniture unlike anything you’ll find in a big box. You can purchase documentary DVDs through their website and download podcasts of many of their symposium presentations.

Registrations opens June 22 at 10:00 am. I’ll be teaching a two-day workshop November 2 and 3.

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