Mulberry Silk

After spending a bunch of time plying the more than 10 oz. of Loop bumps this weekend, I finally have it all off the wheel and drying. This meant I could move on to my next project.

I decided to spin some mulberry silk. I’ve got a total of 4 oz, but I am starting with 2.

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I spun from the fold, and it seems to have gone fairly well.

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I just finished up the 2 oz. My idea is to ply this along with one of the loop bumps I’ve been spinning on the spindles. They have fairly similar color schemes, and I think I’d like to do a navajo 4 ply, with the chain being the loop bump and the silk being the extra carry along single. Since I am not sure I’ll need 4 oz. of silk, and suspect I won’t, I figured I’d start with 2 oz. and see where it takes me.

But, that is unlikely to happen any time soon, as tomorrow starts at 4:45 am and is jam packed with bike riding and socializing. All good things, but I am already overwhelmed!

Hopefully though, my huge skeins of loop bumps all plied up will be dry enough to photograph and count yardage!

Silk Hankies

I finally finished Mawata gradient. I do believe I accomplished the goal of spinning them thick this time. They are, of course, rather thick and thin but not thin like the ones I spun and plied ages ago on the wheel. I left them as singles in order to make sure I had as much yarn as possible out of them. 120 yards. They are very soft and shiny and no, I have no clue what I’ll do with them.

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The other day, Sparkeespud had posted some silk hankie spinning and I ended up getting a little verbose on her blog. Thus, I decided that perhaps that deserved a place of its own on my blog:

“I just wanted to say a word about spinning silk. Silk hankie spinning is very very different from silk spinning. With silk hankies, all the little fibers are in disarray in the hankie and they kind of cling to each other, making it a pretty easy spinning experience. That is why I use it to teach spindle spinning, as it gives the idea of drafting before you get to the hard stuff.

However, when spinning silk roving (or top, or sliver) all the silk fibers are aligned perfectly and that stuff is very slick and slippery. It acts differently than silk hankies.

Then again, I always say that there is no particular fiber that is hard to spin, just different preferences among people. So, try it all and decide for yourself what you enjoy spinning, don’t say “That’s too hard, I should save that for later.” When I was a new spinner, I found silk blends the easiest to spin. Merino/silk, BFL/Silk, if it had silk in it, I could spin it finer, faster, and more even than anything else I encountered.

If you enjoy the silk hankies and are searching for more, they are also often listed under their technical name, mawata. Silk caps (or bells) is another prep you can look for, as it also gives a similar grabby silk experience.

And finally, if you are having trouble with the silk sticking to your hands, make a brown sugar scrub out of brown sugar and olive oil, exfoliate, wash your hands, put lotion on them, and then spin. This helps immensely.”

That being said, I am getting the impression that most people think that silk hankies are not for beginners. I beg to differ. In fact, in teaching my friend Marja how to spin, they were the second fiber I had her try, the first being Kauni pre yarn. Because the drafting happens prior to spinning, they give the new spinner the opportunity to learn to draft without having to handle the spindle at the same time. They were also one of the first things I was told to try if I was going to try a spindle. I am quite curious, for the spinners out there, were you told silk hankies were something to try early on, or something to avoid?

Silk Hankie Mittens

My holiday break has been so productive knitting wise! I’ve enjoyed the quiet time immensely and can’t wait to complete these 2 days of work so I can have some more! While I started a few projects, I also decided finishing one that has been on the needles for awhile would make me very happy. So, I finished the silk hankie mittens. I wore them this morning and they are still amazingly soft and wonderful!

The biggest issue is that the silk really doesn’t have a lot of memory, so they are rather floppy soft mittens!

Smitten

I’ve seen them around the blogosphere, and wanted to knit them. Mittens of pure silk made out of silk hankies. No spinning required. I love the rustic look of them, the unexpected way the colors play on each other, and I just knew they’d be softer than anything imaginable. So I finally got myself some silk hankies and gave it a try. It took a couple rounds to get the proper amount of drafting, but once I did I moved right along.

Silk hankie, and one pulled out into what resembles yarn

The silk hankies stacked together along with my mitten in progress.

The biggest difficulty is keeping winter hands soft enough to work with silk. It just wants to stick to everything! Much exfoliation required. I do have a finished mitten though, a wonderful, soft, finished mitten! I stayed up a little late to work on it.

So, my goals for the holiday and how they stacked up to reality:

Complete the spinning of the fleece

Finish drum carding the pink merino/silk blend (Drum carder issues.)

Repair two of Bug’s sweaters

Wash the Jacob Fleece (half done)

Start stocking #9 (will start at work today)

Make a few mini stockings for gifts and our tree

Knit on test knit

Knit on gloves/mitten combo (Didn’t even make it to the shop to purchase yarn for this project)

However, I also started a new project, a handspun citron shawl, attended 2 hockey games, saw Arthur Christmas, spent time with friends, moved furniture, decorated the tree, and put up Christmas Decorations. I think I’d call it good even so!