Saturday, 2 April 2011

Spinning silk

Knitting and crochet blog week day 6 - something I aspire to.

One day while drifting through other people's blogs I was stopped in my tracks by a beautiful pair of bright silk gloves. Reading on I learned that they were knitted from unspun yarn, hand drawn from silk hankies.  I have never worked with 'raw yarn' before and not thought ever to learn to spin, until now.

The first step was to buy a bundle of 'silk hankies'

There are lots of sellers of the hankies on the Internet, I bought mine from a silk importer in Manchester.  Each hankie is made from a single silk cocoon, stretched out on a simple frame.  The bundles are made up of hankies piled on top of each other, I have no idea how many are in this bundle - lots. The individual hankies look like this:-

It is quite unnecessary to separate more than one off at a time, in fact if you do this they rapidly become impossible to handle, even with four.  But it pleases me to see the cobwebbyness of them strung out here on my washing line.

There are lots of little videos on YouTube explaining how to draw the hankies out into usable fibre.  The best I have seen is here.  Following the instructions on the video clip I produced my first piece of roving

I made this one just to see how the silk feels.  But I intend to dye the hankies in the pile before working with them any more.  I could go back to YouTube to find out how to do this but I have a better idea.  My cousin Sharon is a fabric artist, she hand paints and dyes silk velvet and habotai, in jewel-like colours making bags, scarves and jackets.

Sometime soon I am going visiting for a lesson.

Are you asking yourself what is aspirational about this?  After all I seem to have got it sussed.  Not at all, while it is entirely possible to knit straight from the roving (the puffy cloudy lengths coiled into nests above) I want to learn to spin.  I shall begin with a drop spindle.

Happy Saturday everyone


Vandy said...

This looks so ethereal. Absolutely brilliant. I am so tempted to try this myself. It's going to have to go on my 'one day' list.

Thanks Catherine. Really inspiring. Please post about the final result when it's done.

Anonymous said...

This is art just as much as it is craft-wonderful, inspiring, magical stuff! Bravo.

Bo said...

Really a great craft but silk handkerchiefs are probably not for men. Your passion for knitting is fantastic, wonderful to create with their hands.

Mara said...

I so want to try spinning with silk. I've bought some but so far I've not been brave enough.....

Catherine said...

Mara - at the moment I am just enjoying owning the silk. Not having enough time (or skill) to make use of something as beautiful as this has never seemed sufficient reason not to buy and stash! Bo and Anonymous - I love it when people who do not do crafty stuff (yet!) appreciate what I blog. Lastly, yes Vandy I will post the final result but you may have to wait a little while...