Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bracket fungus dyed yarn

I used that bracket fungus I found on the ground earlier to dye some yarn.

The materials:

roughly 80 grams of found fungus
5 grams of unmordanted wool yarn
5 grams of alum mordanted (20% WOF) wool yarn
5 grams of Sauerkraut mordanted yarn (yes, you read that right)

The method

  • Hacked up the fungus in to as small a chunks as I could.  It was quite woody so some of the chunks were much larger than others.  Soaked in water 24 hours.
  • Brought to a simmer for 1 hour, then added the unmordanted yarn.  Turned off heat, got distracted and left the vat with the yarn in it, for about 24 more hours.
  • Brought dye vat to simmer for 1 hour.  Added mordanted yarns (alum and Sauerkraut) and simmered another hour.  The colour from the dye water was almost clear by this stage, so I felt that the vat was exhausted.  
  • Removed and washed yarn.  Dried yarn.  Took photo of yarn.
  • I should mention, I never bothered to take the mushroom bits out of the dye vat at any time, I figured they were big enough not to bother the yarn too much.

from left to right:
no mordant, alum mordant, and sauerkraut mordant


  • Unmordanted yarn was the darkest colour.  This makes sense seeing as it was in the dye bath the longest.  It's quite a pleasant, earthy orange-brown.  
  • The Alum yarn was the lightest colour, almost yellow.  It also has a harsh texture, indicating that 20% WOF is way too much for alum.  I'm going to try 10% next time.
  • The Sauerkraut yarn is my favourite for texture and colour.  It is much softer than any of the others including the undyed yarn.  It also has a pleasant sheen to it.  This is something I want to experiment more with in future, for light fastness and washing ability.  It might just be a fluke it worked as a mordant, but I wonder if the live enzymes and the acid worked together somehow.  

No mordant, alum mordant and sauerkraut mordant
with original yarn sample on top

How I mordanted the Sauerkraut yarn - had a very old vat of sauerkraut (live culture, not canned) that was heading to the compost, so I stuck the yarn in the juice for about two hours, then heated the entire thing, cabbage and all, to the boiling point.  I didn't even bother rinsing it before plunking it in the dye vat.

1 comment:

Myra said...

I LOVE that you experimented with sauerkraut, and can't wait to give it a try myself. Beautiful yarn.