Monday, October 3, 2016

Just a few more mushrooms

 October is here and there is a slight feeling of panic, thinking about all that needs to get done before the snow arrives. On the top of that list is hunting for more mushrooms, because once the snow is here, I'll have to wait until next year before I find anymore.
I'm not the only one thinking that! The squirrels have been picking mushrooms and putting them in trees to dry, to save for winter eating.
 On the top of my mushroom hunting list have been dermocybes, a group of mushrooms in the Cortinarius genus that are very colourful and good dyers. I have been finding a lot of red gilled ones, but lately have found a few with electric orange gills- possibly Cortinarius aurantiobasis.
 From the top, they look so boring...
 But once you flip them over, their colour is revealed!
 Red, yellow, and orange gills. Stunning colours!
 I put a small piece of the cap from one of the orange dermocybes into some hot water to see what kind of colour it might yield. Very promising!

 Mushrooms are just so exciting!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Dyeing With Mushrooms Workshop

I may have mentioned on this blog a few times that I have been organizing a mushroom dyeing workshop for our small town of Fort St. James. Well, it actually happened! Alissa Allen, from Mycopigments, flew up here and taught us all about mushroom dyeing for a whole weekend. And not only that, but I got to spend time with her foraging during her week-long visit. It was so much fun and I learned so much!
On some of our forage walks, we were lucky enough to spot Hapalopilus nidulans, the most exciting and sought after dye mushroom in the world! I have since found a few more specimens for my collection. It dyes a gorgeous purple. It grows on decomposing birch logs (but not too decomposed!).
Very excited about our Hapalopilus finds! Prior to having Alissa here, I had no idea whether or not we had any good dye mushrooms in this area- apart from Phaeolus schweinitzii. I was pleasantly surprised to find all sorts of cool treasures!
We started out the weekend with a guided forage out in the woods. We found a few mushrooms to use for dyeing, but we also learned about a great many others! We brought all of our specimens back to label and look at.
In the evening, we had fun dyeing silk scarves shibori-style using mushrooms dyes. The next day was our intensive, 5-hour course. We had the propane burners set up outside, ready for all of our testers.
Cortinarius semisanguineus, leeching colour into the water. Look at that red! By modifying the yarn with different mordants and pH levels, we got pink, red, purple, and orange from this one mushroom!
Cortinarius croceus turned the water orange at first and when we added vinegar, it shifted to yellow. The colour wasn't super bright, but I would like to try again with this mushrooms without adding vinegar, and maybe with a higher fungus to fibre ratio.
Hypomyces lactifluorum, otherwise known as lobster mushroom. When added it to the water, it didn't do much until...
...We added ammonia, and then it released its colour!
Good old Phaeolus schweinitzii! Again, with different mordants and pH levels (and after dips in different pH baths), we got a variety of colours from pale yellow, to golden, to deep green, to a yummy yellow-green.
This is some of the Hydnellum aurantiacum (or something similar) that we found in our forests. It made gorgeous bluey-green-grey colours.
And our very own Hapalopilus nidulans! Look at that purple begin to seep into the water!
Alissa and I were very excited to try that Hapalopilus out!
Letharia vulpina is a lichen that makes a lovely chartreuse colour (that smells fantastic too!).
Checking on our simmering yarn.
Look at the Hypomyces lactifluorum! We dipped one end in a vinegar bath and it turned orange and the other end in an ammonia bath and it turned purple!
I was very pleased with the results of the Hapalopilus nidulans!
Our pallet of local colours! Look at them all! My camera does a very poor job of picking up colour, but I can reassure you that it was brilliant!
Our class.
After Alissa went home, we have been going out mushroom foraging and having some great success! I have two very eager helpers! Rain doesn't stop them in their "banana suits!"
We have found quite a few Cortinarius semisanguineus or smithii, used for making red dyes. It is always such a thrill to turn over a dull brown cap to find brilliant red gills underneath.
And we lucked out and found another little log covered in Hapalopilus! It feels like such a treasure hunt whenever we go out!

Have you ever tried dyeing with mushrooms? Did you even know that it was possible? You will find that after you discover mushroom dyes, you will start looking at the forest in a different way. You'll be noticing all sorts of fungi everywhere!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Summer Wrap-Up

Well, once again summer has gotten away from me and I haven't posted since early July. Oh well. Here goes:

We enjoyed a ghost walk through our community, highlighting some historic sites and events. It started in the old Catholic church by the lake. An interesting fact I learned: see that window above the alter? It was originally clear, but it has magnesium in it and over time, the sun has changed it to be purple and orange!

 We had our annual Big Pig Mountain Bike race in Burns lake.

 Kesten tried his first cross-country mountain bike race and enjoyed his first cookie medal at the end.
 I did a 45km ride and had lots of fun. I pushed myself further than I knew I could go and was very proud. David did 100km!
 The garden was off to a great start, but soon, it was drenched by rain and eaten by the resulting slugs.
We did, however, manage to eat from our garden nearly every meal, including the day we ate rainbows for lunch.
 If the conditions were not good for the rest of the garden, the sour cherries thrived for the first time!

 We made sour cherry crumb cake, sour cherry pie, sour cherry jam, and sour cherry chutney!

 I added another year to my age, and just a few more grey hairs.
 I got a kayak for my birthday and was able to enjoy a few evening paddles on the lake.

 The salmon began spawning almost 2 weeks early and we were able to watch them leap up Tsilcoh falls.
 A couple of times we got to paddle out in our canoe to a hidden lagoon.
 Each time, there was a bald eagle there, waiting to greet us at the entrance. We got to see a bittern, deer, beaver signs, and tiny tiny deer tracks. It is so much fun to slip silently through the maze of wetlands.

 The berries were plentiful this year, and I spent time picking and preserving strawberries, huckleberries, and raspberries.

 And Kesten was curious about how to make yogurt, so we made some with fruity-jam bottoms. Mmmm.
 We finally got some storage in our living room and it has been AWESOME! It still looks like this, even though it has been several weeks since we got it. All the toys get tucked away into the baskets at bedtime and the room feels so much freer from clutter.

 In just two weekends, Alissa Allen is coming up to Fort St. James to teach a course on mushroom dyeing. I have been arranging the workshop and I am so excited, and will be very happy when it is over and I can breathe again! It's such a great opportunity to learn some new skills!

We ended the summer with a family visit down in Kelowna and I had such a nice time with my sisters, parents, and old friends. I got to see a movie in the theatres for the first time in 4 years (Ghostbusters- it was hilarious!). I had so much fun, I didn't remember to take many pictures, and when I got home, the only photos on my camera were of bugs, like this beauty black widow spider!
When we got home on Sunday night we had to turn on the heat! Summer disappeared in a hurry and we have had nothing but rain and chilly temperatures since! I was not ready for it to be done yet!
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