I found this ice wool on a dead red alder recently! It might not look like much, but ice wool, aka hair ice or frost beard, is actually really unique and sort of rare to see. It only occurs when Exidiopis effusa fungus is found in the wood rays of dead wood, the temperature is below freezing and the air is still humid. The hairs can grow to be about 20 cm in length, and they’re super thin, between .01 and .03 mm thick! They grow so long and thin because of a natural antifreeze-like protein in the fungus that prevents the ice from recrystallizing. The BBC ran an article about ice wool a while ago, so I was super excited to find and recognize it!
December 18, 2016 - Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
These old world flycatchers are found in the majority of Eurasia and parts of northern Africa. They eat mostly insect larvae and some other invertebrates, such as earthworms, spiders, and snails. In autumn they also eat berries and seeds. Male redstarts sing from high perches to define their breeding territory. Females build nests in holes in rocks or buildings from dry grass and leaves, lining them with hair, wool, and feathers. The females also incubate the eggs and both parents feed the chicks.
Here is a video I took of me blocking my latest lace shawl! Blocking is the process of pinning out a knit item to give it a specific shape… Much like wet human hair, wet wool (i.e. sheep hair) can be stretched into a shape while it’s still damp, and it will retain that shape once dry. This process is essential for lace knitting because it stretches the work out, showing off all the intricate patterns. The original video is almost exactly one hour, and I’ve sped it up to one minute. The GoPro is very easy to use and I love the result! Thanks @lolnickfox for letting me try it out!
Then I think of you in bed, your tongue half chocolate, half ocean, of the houses that you swing into, of the steel wool hair on your head, of your persistent hands and then how we gnaw at the barrier because we are two.