Backyard Harvest – Mushrooms & Leaves

Yesterday it was spitting snow again as I gathered mushrooms for dyeing.

Mushrooms drying for natural dye.

Before you get the mistaken idea that I can answer questions about mushroom dyeing, let me set you straight: At this point I’m just gathering what I find in my own yard, trying to identify them, and drying them for later experiments. If this variety leaves color on wool as nice as the rusty orange it stains my fingers, I’ll be quite happy.

Mushroom from my yard.

And here’s another surprise that popped up next to a box elder stump. I’ve never seen one this size in our yard before. Then again, for most of the past decade we’ve forgotten what normal rainfall looks like.

Underside of mushroom from my yard.

Because of the way search engines lead the unsuspecting, I won’t tell you what I think these are. I don’t want to lead anyone astray with a mis-identification. But I’d love to hear what you think they are!

By next week I should be back in dyeing mode, in preparation for our studio show and sale on November 16. Maybe then we’ll see what kind of color (if any) these produce. In the meantime, I’m chipping away at my fall harvest.

Siberian iris leaves harvested in my yard.

Yesterday I cut Siberian iris leaves. They’re spread out to dry under the big table in my studio. I’ll turn them every couple of days, then hang them for storage.

I still want to gather more oak and maple leaves, and see what else I have room to store. That’s the key, right there: I love gathering, so have to limit myself to what I can store and what I will use.

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Donna Kallner

fiber artist, teacher and explorer, inspired by ancient fiber techniques and all the ways contemporary fiber artists give old ideas a new spin

2 thoughts on “Backyard Harvest – Mushrooms & Leaves”

    1. I harvest the irises more for cordage and coiling than dyeing. However, if you leave them wrapped up in a damp towel and forget about them long enough, they will stain it. So I’ll try a test dyepot shortly with some bundles of leaves from before the drought that I’ve been hoarding. During our drought, the leaves I fall-harvested were mildew spotted and had an odd smell after mellowing (that’s rolling dry leaves in a damp towel overnight to make them pliable). Those icky leaves all ended up in the compost pile, and I’ve been waiting for a year like this to replenish my stash.

      I wish you could smell the fragrance of Siberian iris leaves from a good year after they’ve been mellowed. It’s sort of like walking into a tobacco shop. Very pleasant to work with!

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