Holiday Stitch Exchange: Dyeing with Mushrooms

Posted by Kristine Vejar on December 03, 2014 1 Comment

Hi Everyone! Today on the blog, Adrienne and I will teach you about dyeing with mushrooms!

I like mushrooms. Adrienne loves mushrooms. This is her favorite time of year - because here in California, it rains, and mushrooms like rain. The day after it rains is one of the best times to go mushroom hunting.This is when the mushrooms start peeking their heads out from the forest floor.

The first important thing when deciding to forage for mushrooms is to know that mushrooms can be toxic if digested. This means if you are with small children or dog do not let them touch or eat the mushrooms. It is important to wash your hands after handling mushrooms. Always use pots and vessels which are dedicated to the dyeing process - do not use these vessels to cook food. 

There are specific mushrooms which are very good for natural dyeing. Dorothy Beebee and Arleen Rainis Bessette and Alan E. Bessette have done quite a bit of research on dyeing with mushrooms. Their books names' are Mushrooms for Color and The Rainbow Beneath My Feet  and are well worth checking out - as they will contain information on how to dye with mushrooms and also how to identify mushrooms good for dyeing.

The recipe we will teach you today is for a mushroom called Phaeolus schweinitzii. This mushroom is also known as "Dyer's Polypore". We are using it today because it is fairly easy for us to find. And, it is found in many places across North America - so we think it could be easy for you to find too. This mushroom gives a beautiful range of color ranging from beige, gold, dark brownish orange, and brown. The color usually depends on the freshness, quantity, and amount of water you put into your dye pot. If you take good notes - as to where you found the mushroom, what time of year it is found, what size it is, and its weight - there is a greater chance you will be able to understand the color of dye you achieve.


The Dyer's Polypore hides at the base of trees or decaying wood, especially conifers. The cap of the mushroom can be anywhere from 1-1/2" - 10" wide.  It usually has a fan of fused caps that are concentric in growth. It has many tubes instead of gills for dropping spores.

You can make all the colors of the rainbow just using mushrooms. Sometimes the mushrooms need a little help with pH modifiers or different mordants. This recipe is just the beginning of what could be quite an extensive research project - as it has been for us over the past five years.


In order to achieve a rich color which is colorfast the yarn or fabric must first be mordanted. In this recipe, we are focusing on wool and silk fibers. To mordant these types of fiber, we use aluminum potassium sulfate. 1 tablespoon per 100g of goods to be dyed.

Recipe for mordanting:

Add enough water to a stock pot to cover the goods you intend to mordant.

Dissolve mordant in hot water. Add to water in stock pot.

Add goods to be dyed.

Add your yarn and heat. Over the course of a half hour bring temperature to 180 degrees F. Keep at this temperature for 60 minutes.

After 60 minutes, turn off heat source and let yarn cool down naturally to room temperature. Now proceed to dyeing.

Recipe for dyeing:

The ratio of mushroom to yarn should be 2:1 - in other words, if your mushroom weighs 200g, you will get a color similar to the one we have obtained in this recipe if your yarn or fabric weighs 100g.

First crumble your mushroom into a non-reactive stock pot.

Fill the stock pot with tap water to just cover the mushroom.

Place the stock pot with cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Let cool down and break apart further.

Let the mushroom soak overnight to extract the most amount of dye.

The next day heat again for another hour.

Then strain the dye liquid from the crumbled mushroom.

Then stain again.

Put strained water back in stock pot.

Add your yarn and heat. Over the course of a half hour bring temperature to 180 degrees F. Keep at this temperature for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, turn off heat and let yarn cool down naturally to room temperature.

Wash by hand with gentle dish soap and water, and line dry. 

Voila! Here's the dyed skein of Creating - our superwash Merino, fingering weight, base yarn we created with Dyer's Polypore.

We've wanted to discuss dyeing with mushrooms on the blog and adding mushroom dyed yarn to the Verb online store for quite some time - but the release of Ysolda's newest shawl pattern, Dovana, really motivated us to get going! This shawl is part of Ysolda's series of patterns called Knitworthy - all fun, sweet patterns which would make great gifts! We love it - and she used one skein of Verb's base Creating - which we dyed with her the first time she visited Verb. See the skeins of mushroom dyed Creating here.

And to inspire you to try more mushrooms in the dyepot, we will leave you with this one last image - this is Laetiporus sulphureus, and a silk scarf which has been dyed with it, resulting in a light apricot color.

Thanks for reading!
Kristine and Adrienne


Tomorrow on Holiday Stitch Exchange - I give you a list of my top 10 gifts for natural dyers, wannabe natural dyers, and appreciators of natural dyes!

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Holiday Stitch Exchange: Announcing Big Sky

Posted by Kristine Vejar on November 29, 2014 0 Comments

Oh! Am I ever excited! Never at Verb have we been able to find the perfect thick, chunky yarn - and now we have one - Big Sky (160 y / 100g)

I adore thick, chunky yarn - I like the texture when knit. I like that it knits up fast. In one afternoon, you can have a hat or a cowl. We use thick yarn in the shop when teaching beginner's. It is as important to learn to knit - as it is to have the gratification of wearing a handknit.

Just like Clover, Big Sky is made from the Greene Ranch's Targhee wool and has gone through the mule-spinning process.

Right now, there are nine naturally-dyed colors available. We are getting another shipment of this yarn soon - and I will dye more colors when it arrives.

I am hoping to have an indigo session mid-December - and to release a bunch of indigo dyed yarn and fabric.

Tomorrow on Holiday Stitch Exchange: I am releasing a brioche cowl pattern. It calls for one skein of Big Sky. Something to look forward to...

In the meantime - TODAY only - FREE SHIPPING on all goodies stocked in the Verb online store. Enter WARMTH as the coupon code.

Sending love, warmth, and gratitude!


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Holiday Stitch Exchange: Let's Do This!

Posted by Kristine Vejar on November 29, 2014 0 Comments

Welcome to the holiday edition of stitch exchange!

For the next two weeks on the blog - we will be giving you our top 10 gift ideas for knitting, sewing, natural dyeing, weaving, felting, and spinning! On those days, there will be a special discount given on the items listed - good for that day only - so stay tuned! 

We also have lots of fun projects to show you - like needle felted ornaments for your tree, a  tutorial using mushrooms as dye, and more!

Tomorrow, we begin this adventure by releasing our newest yarn, Big Sky, a bulky single yarn made of Montana Targhee wool. This knits up fast! And is perfect for holiday knitting! Plus - we are offering free shipping on the Verb webstore!

I can't wait to show you this yarn!! See you tomorrow!





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Stitch Exchange: New Knitting Pattern! Walk in the Woods Cowl

Posted by Kristine Vejar on November 18, 2014 2 Comments

I love working with stripes - as they require using two yarns and lead to endless possibilities for customization.

I wanted to create a cowl that would be striped, easy to make and pretty to wear - so I have a new pattern for you - Walk in the Woods Cowl. Use two different colors, two different textures through choice of yarn, or get really wild and do both!

This would make a great gift!

In the sample shown, I decided to focus on textural differences. I used one skein of Verb's very slick, smooth, and soft Floating (alpaca / cashmere / silk) and combined it with Verb's newest yarn, Clover (targhee wool / silk), which is rustic, woolly, and fluffy. I used yarn in the the same color, Hawk's Feather.

A Walk in the Woods Cowl

A simple, stylish cowl pattern that demonstrates two ways of working in-the-round with stripes: plain and jogless. When knitting the stripes plain, the stripes will be slightly staggered. When knitting the stripes jogless, the stripes will match from one row to the next.

Small (Medium)

Finished Measurements
21” (35”) circumference
13 ½” (13 ½”) from cast-on to bind-off

A Verb for Keeping Warm Floating (70% alpaca – 20% cashmere - 10% silk; 400 yards / 100g), Hawk’s Feather or color of your choice, 1 skein (color A)

A Verb for Keeping Warm Clover (80% Montana Targhee wool - 20% silk; 200 yards / 50 grams), Hawk’s Feather or color of your choice, 1 skein (color B)

Size Small: One 16in US 10 (6.0 mm) circular needle
Size Medium: One 24in US 10 (6.0 mm) circular needle

3 stitches and 8 rows / 1" in garter stitch pattern

Stitch Markers, Tapestry needle


Cast on 63 (105) stitches with A and join for knitting in the round, being careful that the join is not twisted. Place marker to indicate the beginning of the round.

To knit stripes plainly:

Round 1: Knit with A to marker at end of round.
Round 2: Purl with A to marker at end of round.
Round 3: Knit with B to marker at end of round.
Round 4: Purl with B to marker at end of round.

Repeat Rounds 1-4 until until piece measures approximately 13 ½”, ending with Round 1. 

Bind-off loosely.

To knit stripes using the jogless stripe method:

Set up rounds:

Round 1: Knit with A to marker at end of round.
Round 2: Purl with A to marker at end of round.

Pattern is as follows:

Round 3: Knit with B to marker at end of round.
Round 4: Slip the first stitch purlwise. Purl with B. When you get to the marker at the end of the round, take it off the needle, purl the next stitch and replace the marker. (This moves your marker one stitch to the left.)
Round 5: Knit with A to marker at end of round.
Round 6: Slip the first stitch purlwise. Purl with A. When you get to the marker at the end of the round, take it off the needle, purl the next stitch and replace the marker. (This moves your marker one stitch to the left.)

Repeat rounds 3 through 6 until your piece measures approximately 12 ½”.

Then work rounds 3 through 5 once more.

Bind off loosely. Weave in ends.


Here are some other color combinations that would make a pretty Walk in the Woods cowl. Feel free to share your ideas too!

From left to right: Old Vine, Sangria, Supernova, Hyacinth, Petroglyph, Bandana, Serpentine, Barnacle.

p.s. The Thirteen Mile yarn came in - stop by the shop to check out the naturally dyed beauty. To read about Thirteen Mile Mill and Farm, click here.

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Textile Byways: Montana 2014 Wrap-Up

Posted by Kristine Vejar on November 14, 2014 0 Comments

Thanks for joining us on our first edition of Textile Byways - and for coming along on this journey through Montana. If you have been on a journey recently, which took you off the beaten path, where you have found textiles and met the people who have made them, get in touch, we would love to feature your story!

We have dyed more of Clover - which is now available on our website. Also, in the next couple of weeks, we will release another Montana Targhee yarn - stay tuned for details.

Next week on the blog, it is back to life in the big city. We have a new cowl pattern to share with you.

I will leave you with this. The town Big Timber is the gateway to Sweet Grass County. Here is a mural found in the center of town.


So much love for Montana and wool.

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