Last week I had an unexpected opportunity from a farm nearby, and I came to be the owner of some aged shitake mushrooms. They were past the point that they could be eaten, which would have definitely been my first choice (mushrooms forever), so I thought I'd finallytry my hand at some natural dyeing. Home they came and in the dye pot they went.
I didn't use a mordant, but did soak the yarn (Moeke yarns Elena) in hot water before dropping in the dye pot. I boiled the mushrooms for about an hour and the water turned this really lovely mahogany color that the photographs didn't quite capture. I was so excited! I put the yarn in the pot at about 170 degrees for around 45 minutes, swirling occasionally, and then let the yarn sit in the pot overnight with the heat off and the lid on.
My results were less than stellar, to be sure. The yarn basically didn't change color from its original shade, which was crazy with the water color being such a deep brown. It seemed like it had gone down a shade or so towards brown, but it turned out that was just the color change from the wool being wet. Ha!
The next day I went to my public library and picked out about 6 books on natural dyeing, so I think my future attempts will go much better. This was just a shot-in-the-dark, I-randomly-decided-to-do-this sort of activity (and I have frozen some additional mushrooms to try again later), so I'm not too disappointed. Sometimes it's just fun to try new things and see where it will take you.