Spinning silk hankies

While I was at stitches, I had some purchasing rules.  I stuck to them like glue.  One of the rules was, when buying spinning fiber, buy fibers which I am not accostumed to and have not experimented with.  I’ve always wanted to try spinning silk hankies, and never was there a better place to pick some up than stitches.  In fact, it was one of my first purchases.  I purchased 1 oz during the first day there, when I was feeling so overwhelmed and knew not what to buy.

Since silk hankies were quite a mystery to me, I thought I would give you some pictures so that those of you unfamiliar with the process would be able to understand without searching it all out for yourself.  Basically, silk hankies are silk cocoons, stretched and spread on a form.  They are then dyed and sold for spinning.

Looks a lot different from the fiber I usually post huh?

Spinning silk hankies in practice is as different as the fiber looks.  The first step is to peel off one layer of silk, one cocoon.  This is easier said than done.  The silk is sticky and the layers are so thin!

You can see one layer being peeled up here.

This is a single layer peeled off.

I then poke a hole right in the middle!  Don’t worry, the stuff is strong and it isn’t as alarming as one would think.

Then I pull and pull and pull on that ring, from all angles, until it gets very thin.  This is when you realize just how strong silk is.  Even in unspun form, it takes a fair bit of muscle to pull this into a thin strip.

I then break the strip somewhere in the middle and start to spin.  I can continue to draft it out into more even fiber, but the majority of the work is already done.  And the resulting spun fiber is amazingly strong and shiny!

In this picture you can see the spun silk shining on the bobbin.  This is currently cobweb weight so I will have to ply it in order to get some laceweight yarn.

On another note, this evening was so lovely, and I was so enjoying my time spinning on the porch.  Until I realized that a police helicopter kept circling overhead.  I had thought that perhaps I should go inside but ignored it initially.  Then I started to see the biker cops patrolling the area.  And I’ve never seen them here before.  So I did go in, and shut and lock all the windows and doors.  Things seem to have quieted down now, but I did get somewhat alarmed!

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