Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lichen for dye

I've been going for a walk each day to check on the maple trees (syrup making time!).  I noticed that there are a lot of bits of lichen that have blown off the trees, so I started gathering these blowdowns with the hope that I can use lichen to dye yarn.

There are a ridiculously large number of different kinds of lichen that grow in  this kind of forest, far more than even the professional lichenologests (fun new word I made up) have had a chance to catalogue.  So basically I'm trying to sort them by shape and a bit by colour, though with the larger, flat lichen it's a bit difficult to know which are different kinds and which are just variations of the same kind.  The thin beard shaped lichen have more distinct characteristics and are easier to sort.

Lichen is absolutely fascinating.  It's also creepily beautiful.  It is a symbiotic life form, consisting of fungus and algae living together and 'lichen' it (ha ha, lichen sounds like like'n... it's a naturalist joke).

So far I'm gathering about a pocketful a day, separating out any bark or debris I can find, then sorting them.  

I don't know how to dye with these, so I have a lot of research to do.  But I'm looking forward to seeing how this experiment turns out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If Santa Claus visits, you can offer him food and now feed his reindeers too! On rocky lands lichens are almost like white snow. If there werent green grass, there is many other plants to cover the land. What kind the world were if there werent grass!

Be careful if you need to walk on lichen covered rocks, they can be very slippery. Mooses are lucky having 4 legs, no problem if one slips.