Mushroom dyeing - Suillus luteus

Dyeing is fascinating.  One never knows exactly what the outcome is going to be and trying new things to dye from is always a thrill.  I have been especially interested in dying with lichens and mushrooms.  Just because it's different, I guess.  So if I see books about those subjects I just have to have those.

I have been buying quite a few books about dyeing.  Old books mostly.  Some of them I have bought for a few dollars and one I even got for a few cents.  I discovered that old out of print books can be found on the internet and many even on Amazon.  So now I have a pile of books on dyeing, most in English but I've also acquired some in other languages.  I even have one in Finish (a language which I absolutely do not understand, but I've used Google translate to help).

There is always something to learn from a new book, even if on occasion the lesson is mostly about how not to write a book on the subject.  I was lucky enought to find a used book market on a recent trip to Copenhagen and found one book in Danish about plant dyes and another in Swedish about spinning wool and linen.  Can't wait to read them.

It's mushroom collecting time and I've gone once with my mom to collect them.  Although I only picked berries and let her take the mushrooms.  There weren't that many of them of the right size for eating.  As I understand it though, the bigger and more unappetizing, the better they are for dying.

I have mostly gotten beige and brown from mushrooms so far.  The really exotic types that give purples, reds, greens and blues don't seem to grow here at all.  But I was really pleased with the results I got from The Slippery Jack mushroom - Suillus luteus.  My mom had dried quite a few very wet mushrooms in the oven.  The liquid that dripped from them was a bright yellow so she gave it to me to experiment with.

It dyed a wonderful yellow colour, even unmordanted wool.  When I make these experiments I always dye both unmordanted and mordanted wool and then I use modifiers to see if I can change the colour.  I always try an acid and an alkaline soak and also iron water and copper water.  The Suillus turned a very pretty orange in the washing soda bath and a paler yellow in the acid bath.  The iron made it dark brown and the copper turned it a lighter brown.  I love the fact that I didn't have to waste the mushrooms to use their colour and I will certainly go and look for some more after the next rain.  I'm planning to knit a sweater with a pattern where I can use lots of different colours, all with natural dyes.  I've harvested some of my home grown dye plants.  The woad and the Japanese indigo are just incredibly fun to work with.  To make a blue colour from green leaves.  It's magic.


  1. Great colours from the suillus...I love all the variations....still too warm here for mushrooms but as soon as the rains come I willbe out there...great you found all those books too.

  2. This sounds fantastic! I love mushrooms but have never tried baking them by themselves like this. Will have to give this a try sometime!

    spore syringe


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