Thursday, February 27, 2014

Silk Hankie

        So right now, you might be asking yourself, 'What in Middle Earth is a silk hankie?" Or you might know exactly what I'm talking about, but I think that's kind of unlikely. I had never even heard of one until a few weeks ago when one of my friends brought one into the yarn store. Anyway, they're pretty cool. If you're a fiber junkie like me or are just maybe interested in knitting/crocheting/spinning, this might be something to check out. 
        Every year, all of the crazy people who love yarn go to an event called STITCHES; for us, STITCHES West because of where we live. Well, I didn't go. I have a lot on my hands right now, and as much as I would have liked to see all of the fibers and come home with a few, I decided it was not the best idea. Yesterday, I went into the yarn store to purchase some bamboo that I am going to knit a glove out of (I have already made the first one), and my good friend Mary was there. She brought out a few silk hankies that she had bought at the event that past weekend, and let me process a layer of one of them. I had seen this done before and knew how but hadn't done it myself yet. I stretched it all out and wound it up, and then asked me to go get a bag from behind the counter to put the rest in - yes, we all act like we work there. I did so, and brought it back to her, but she said I could keep it! And I was so surprised I just about hit the ceiling! I was so happy I couldn't stand it. Then, she took out of her bag some lovely brown alpaca roving to spin, and some dark brown wool as well, and handed them to me! She had brought me back spinning supplies from STITCHES! I felt very loved, let me tell you, but she told me that I had to bring in what I make to show her. That I will do for her, because she was so kind in giving me the silk, the alpaca (which I have never spun before), and the wool. I am thinking right now of what I can make to give to her as a thank you. 
        Back to the silk hankies. As soon as I got home with my bamboo yarn and my spinning fibers, I got out my drop spindle, which is made from a dowel and part of our old Christmas tree. Many people who are prey to the craft industry buy fancy and very expensive drop spindles, but I made mine because I don't have $80 to spare right now. The ones that other people have may work a bit better - they have a good weight and spin, but mine serves its purpose right now, and quite well indeed. I'll show you now how I do mine. 
        First off, this is what a silk hankie looks like. Mine is such a pretty color, don't you think?

        I had already used up a few layers in the above picture. You can probably see the layered edges; what you do is you take hold of one and peel it away from the others. A very thin sheet will come off, and the nice thing is, it doesn't matter if you tear a hole in it or if it comes off a bit ragged.

        Then, you stick your thumbs through the middle, and pull the silk to form a loop. You can draft it to be as thin as you like.

         Then, you break it. Here, you can either wind it up and knit it as roving, or you can spin it. I spin mine.

        Here I am attaching it to my spindle:

         Drafting out:

         ... And spinning! Umm, I just noticed the messed up rug in the corner - my cat must have been fighting with it. Oh well.

        As I said, I had already spun quite a bit when I took these pictures. It looks so pretty on the spindle, especially because I spun it so thinly. When I ply two strands together it is going to be such nice yarn! Thank you Mary so much!

        Do you spin silk hankies, or anything else? I love to hear about other people's experiences!



  1. This was really interesting! I've been spinning for about a year and a half now, first on a spindle then a wheel. But I've only ever worked with wool. I've heard of silk hankies but I've never spun one and I wasn't exactly sure how it was done! Now I'm thinking I'd like to give it a try. Great post! :)

    1. I had only spun wool as well before this, and there was quite a difference in how it worked up, which I liked a lot. We actually have an old Irish Castle wheel that is missing a few parts, but I haven't done the research to get it up to working condition yet. Soon...

  2. So interesting!!! ...and isn't bamboo lovely (in all its forms)? :)

    1. Yes, it is! I love knitting with it especially. And the bamboo wood flooring... Definitely going to be in my room someday!

  3. I only tried spinning like once years and years ago, and it didn't really take. I would like to try it again. This is so cool; I didn't know how silk was spun. The lady who showed us how to spin used wool mostly and kept an angora rabbit (also awesome), but I don't remember is she said anything about spinning with silk.

    1. I am actually hoping to get some angoras, although I don't know when... Wool, I found at least, is the most difficult to spin, so don't give up! I'd love to make some sort of an angora/wool blend in the future.