Skip to main content

Beautiful Natural Dye Results and Seasonal Earrings s

Wolf Moss Lichen & fabrics: top: Silk Chiffon Bottom: Silk Charmeuse
I've been very excited and anticipating trying a bit of the dye solution I made from my cache of Wolf Moss Lichen that was gathered in Roslyn, Washington last month. I wanted to try small oddments of silk so that I might have a better idea of what to expect before I sacrificed a lovely silk scarf to this briney brew.. Thankfully, I have enough of the raw ingredients to make another batch which I will save along with the remainder if batch number one.

The top piece is silk chiffon that had been sitting in an alum mordant for longer than the piece of silk charmeuse had. It did make a difference in the depth of color - and also I did not microwave the charmeuese ( I hit the chiffon with a minute in the micro) which may also have affected the results. Both pieces of cloth were put in a glass and covered with dye solution and let set on the heater (gas) for an hour. I am thrilled with the color I got! It's a rich green cast yellow. A really a special color! I am now confident enough in the color to try it on a shibori tied scarf blank. I also want to see what the addition of another mordant will do - or not do. Some experimentation coming up.

My next planned experiment may be bracken ferns which we have in abundance - at least if I pick some before we have too many more heavy frosts.

The history of this fascinating, nearly fluorescent looking lichen is quite interesting and the following information is taken from the Washington State Department of Ethnobotany.
Letharia vulpina 
Wolf "Moss"
The color ranges from a brilliant yellow green to a duller yellow ochre under drier conditions. It is the easiest lichen to spot, noticible even when driving at fast speed from the highway.

Letharia vulpina is most commonly found in dry coniferous forests. The species also occurs in Europe southward to North Africa. The species is found on twigs and stumps of most conifers. In Washington, you won't find it in coastal Douglas-fir rain forests, but in drier inland Douglas-fir stands, where it can be very abundant. It seems to be adapted to summer dryness [in fact, the alga's photosynthetic maximum is 7oC, and doesn't drop much even to 0oC, (the freezing point)]. So it is active mostly during winter precipitation. There are, however, instances of the lichen found on bark of other trees, and human made substrates like houses and fence posts. It sometimes occurs on rocks.

Use: Used as a yellow dye. For this purpose it was boiled in water, alone or with Oregon grape bark. This dye was used mainly for basket materials and fibers. As a medicine, this lichen was boiled and taken in a weak solution for internal problems and, in stronger solution, was used to wash external sores and wounds.

This lichen is... poisonous that the Achomawi in Northern California used it to make poison arrowheads.

And how did the common name come about? It deals with the European usage, which (barbarians that they were) was destructive. It was mixed with ground glass and meat and used to kill wolves. The vulpinic acid is toxic, although it is not clear if the ground glass may have been enough to do the job. Perhaps it caused stomach perforations and allowed the vulpinic acid (note the name) to be readily absorbed. 
Plant and habitat description, as well as the source of the common name from Europe comes from Scott Kroken, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, who is currently...."

Another excellent description of this fascinating plant can be found on Wikipedia.
I've never been a huge Halloween fan but I am a crow fan and I though a bit of experimentation with a seasonal erring might be in order. I made several pairs of felt crows to see what size I liked the best and these are the ones I chose to make into earrings. I considered making some for sale but had to figure out a way to be able to make several pairs at once.  I made several pairs individually but now see what making a sheet of the needle felted base will shorted the production time quite a bit. I made a felt sheet by needling black roving onto a stiff interfacing base and then added a glint-y little eye  - voila! Seasonal earring that display my love of corvids!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend! Personally, I've been in a bit of sinking spell lately but think I'm on the upswing once a gain thank goodness! I hate it when that happens!

Don't forget,  we all "fall back" on Sunday - providing us with shorter days and time to knit, felt, paint, quilt and create .. that is if you have any energy left in the evenings which I generally don't !!


  1. I'm jealous. All my 'art' is going into schoolwork. The only thing I'm working on is my a'la Dr Who, long, multi-colored scarf. But end of December I am on vacation and no school, so hopefully I can play some.

  2. That mossy fabric is fabulous!!

  3. Wow Marie. Love it. I got out my natural dye book of recipes for walnuts. I'll post about it in a couple of days. Love this green and the crows are pretty cool, too!


Post a Comment

Share your thoughts! Thank you for taking the time to stop by!

Popular posts from this blog

Circular Knitting Needle Comparison

When I use something a lot I have to admit that I try to find the brand that works best for me. I never thought that I would ever be a scissor snob until I found Dovo brand scissors and, of course I love my trusty Fiskars too. I became a scissor snob thank to Dovo. 
Now I seem to be searching for the perfect knitting needles - the perfect one for me at least. I have been enjoying the 'chase' and I think I am close to knowing exactly what my preference is, and want, in a knitting needles. 
I only use circular knitting needles. When I first taught myself to knit myself  that's what I used and my preference has not changed. I began knitting with Addi Turbo needles. That is the brand that my LYS sold and I have always loved how slick and fast they are. I have sets of Addi clicks interchangeables in both lace and regular.  Over time, I have discovered what I want in a knitting needle: metal, the pointiest tip possible, a fast knitting, slick, metal needle and a very flexible c…

Fabric Stiffeners and Hardeners For All Occasions Plus A Recipe For Home Made Starch Alternative

I have had to become better acquainted with various ways to harden, stiffen or prevent fraying in cloth lately. It has been an enlightening journey, and I thought that I would pass it along the lessons that I have learned about a variety of excellent products that suit any need to 'tame' fabric for a variety of reasons. 
Fray Check. Who among us has not used this ubiquitous little potion over the years? It works like a charm to 'glue' up those raw edges on some of the most beautiful fabrics I use; ensuring that I can sew the fabric without fear of endless unraveling. This product has remained a favorite since I first discovered it many years ago. The only change that I think Prym/Dritz has made to it over the years is a finer application tip.
I have re-discovered my admiration for this product as I was making a holiday gift from some beautiful cotton that was especially prone to fraying! I have also recently learned that Fray Check can be removed with rubbing alcohol.…

Aurifil's New 80wt Appliqué Thread

The changes that getting older bring can be amusing at times. When I was younger I eagerly awaited hearing about a new job or pay raises, what the weekend might bring, what art I hoped to make soon...those kind of life experience kind of things. Lately though, my 'awaiting moments' are far more simple. Thread! Yes, I have been eagerly waiting to try Aurifil's new appliqué smooth, strong, 80wt cotton. It seems that my 'making' life has been dominated by hand sewing and hand appliqué lately. Therefore, anything that tends to make my stitches look smaller and blend better is on my radar. Over the years I have used a lot of varieties of appliqué thread. Who doesn't love stitching with silk thread?! It's soft, lustrous and blends so well! My issue with sewing with most silk threads was that it tended to break a lot. I tried to love Superior Threads Bottom Line poly and Wonderfil's Invisifil poly. The problem? I really tend to be old school and …