Dyeing at the 6th Annual Mushroom Festival

On October 18th the Pender Harbour Community Hall was filled with visitors to the Sunshine Coast Mushroom Society’s sixth annual Mushroom Festival.  It was a wonderful event celebrating the rich diversity of mushrooms that grow on the Sunshine Coast.

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Members of the Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers Guild volunteered to demonstrate dyeing with mushrooms.

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We also had a display of the wonderful range of colours that can be obtained from mushrooms.

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We demonstrated dyeing with three different mushrooms.  Dyer’s polypore (Phaeolus schweinitzii) grows only on old wood and starts appearing in early September.

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Sulphur tufts (Hypholoma fasciculare) is a common woodland mushroom that grows in dense clusters on decaying wood, usually alders here on the Coast. The caps are sulphur yellow when young, aging to brown.  It is poisonous.

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The Lobster mushroom (Hypomyces lactifluorum) is a parasite on other mushrooms.  Here on the Sunshine Coast its host is a white mushroom, Russula brevipes, found in older forests growing in moss and duff.  The outer red layer is the Lobster mushroom and the part used for dyeing while the inner white part can be eaten.

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Here Lynda and Merrily are cutting the red layer away from the white part.

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We carefully tended the dye pots and answered the questions of the many visitors who were interested in the dyeing process.

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Most of the wool from the local sheep Olivia was knitted into two shawls but a single skein remained.  Here Deanna is lowering the skein into a dye pot of lobster mushrooms.

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With water of a fairly neutral pH the wool dyes an uninteresting beige but with the addition of baking soda to turn the water alkaline the wool turns pink.  Here Ann Harmer checks its progress.

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When the three dye pots had yielded their riches, we hung our wool on a pole outside.  You can see the beautiful deep pink skein of Olivia’s wool.  The yellow is from the Sulphur tufts and the gold is a bit of the wool from the Dyer’s polypore dye bath.  We had a wonderful time sharing our love of dyeing with some of our local mushrooms.

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Heather Apple

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