Her book was reissued thanks to Karen Diadek Casselman. I bet she'd be well worth meeting, too. Since I shan't be in Canada any time soon, I have at least taken on board her thoughts on ethics. Before cutting another swathe through the local lichens, I decided I really ought to do as she says and identify five lichen species. Oddly, I found Eileen Bolton's hand drawn illustrations and descriptions much easier to refer to than photos, though I did use both.
Can't miss the orange one, must be Xanthoria parietina. It grows all over the dry stone walls on the coast. The white one on a garden wall has to be one of the aptly named 'Chewing Gum' lichens, probably Leconora muralis. It's not mentioned in the dye book and heaven knows how you would scrape any off, the thin layer of lichen seems welded on.
The real challenge was sorting out all the mixed species shown flourishing on the sea buckthorn below. The local lichens are not picky, much the same ones appear on birch, oak, apple and pine. After any blowy day, there are plenty to collect without violating the code of ethics, from fallen twigs or just lying loose on the ground.
Three distinct types often grow together. I think the grey-green filamentous bunches are probably Ramalinas and the wrinkly green lobed plaques are various subspecies of Parmelia. Taking a magnifying glass to their hairy undersides helps pick out one from another. The most abundant one really caught my attention when I looked it up in the book.
Evernia prunastri, growing in shrubby bunches among the other types on the stick below, is alternatively named for its appearance as the Stag's Horn Lichen. Its white underside and smooth oval axils convinced me I had the identification right.
Eileen says this is an orchil lichen which gives a deep plum colour with ammonia on wool. I picked up bits every time I was out, let them dry, then rubbed them through a sieve. Adding household ammonia diluted one to two with water made the powder swell up. Stirring several times a day gave a pungent reek to the whole room. Within days the colour changed from green to khaki. By day 12, dark plum.
One tablespoon should dye 50g wool, with no mordant. This deserved my best skeins of fingering weight Dorset Poll.
The dye bath was not an instant success, no colour seemed to be going into the wool. I gave it a good hour simmering and left it overnight. Nice pale pink, maybe the lichen needed to ferment a bit more. I used another tablespoon on Day 15 and Day 21, then put the last skein in with the remaining two tablespoons of now mud coloured lichen paste on Day 25.
I'd say this is a much better result than beige, even though it isn't deep plum. Plenty of storms presently, think I'll keep picking up bits and do a stronger bath, one day. Can't commit to another month of stirring stinky lichen til those at home with sensitive nostrils have got over this experiment.
I used the after bath from the final dye to get a bit of variegation on the two middle colours, then crocheted this shawl. The pattern is easier than it looks and I am very happy with the final result. Though you'd never imagine from the fermentation smell, the wool has a lovely fragrance.
The pattern is called 'Over the Willamette'. I have called this shawl 'Plumette' in reference to both the windfall of lichen and the diminutive shades of plum it gave.