Silk Hankies

There are two spinning groups in the city, one in the north and one in the south. But many women go to both of them. I always enjoy going to these, but can't always get away from work to get to them. They run from September to June. At the June meeting, it is tradition for us to do something different, and to go out somewhere. Sometimes we go to lunch at some fun place, or we do a dyeing day in the country.

Last week, we were invited to a farm south of the city for spinning and dyeing. But it had been raining all week, and was that day too. A year ago, we had some major flooding, and in fact, our June spinning date had been cancelled because of closed roads. But what's a little rain? We still ventured forth!

We had a lovely day spinning on the enclosed porch. Some of us also did some dyeing with silk hankies. These are squares of stretched out silk cocoons. It takes many cocoons to make up a layer. The silk strands are quite long.

We worked out in the horse barn (the horses were put out into the rain). It is great fun to apply some dye in various ways, and with each one you do, you get an idea for another one! Very addictive! And even working with 2-3 of your favourite colours, you get a wide range of effects, from subtle to robust.

After steaming for about half an hour (while we had a delicious lunch), we let them cool for a bit and rinsed. Some of the dyes came out easily, especially the red. I took mine home and tested a corner -- it ran more than it should. So I doused them with vinegar and heated each hankie in the microwave oven for about 3 minutes (which got very hot!) and then rinsed once they cooled. This time the colours didn't run much at all, except for the red. It is notorious for running and fading quickly.

When dry, we were to take a thin layer, and open them up and attenuate until we got the thickness we wanted. We could spin them, or just use as they are. Since the fibres are all quite long, there doesn't really need to be much twist to hold together. You can weave or knit the roving as it is. I've included a photo of one hankie that I made into a roving; and another of the other colours I got. I still haven't decided what I will do with these... but ideas are running around my head!

Image icon silk hankie and roving.jpg62.01 KB
Image icon silk hankie colours.jpg58.61 KB


CLABBERS's picture

I would enjoy seeing something made from the you are finished with the dying and drying process. Have you knit something from them yet?

BuduR's picture

Very pretty!

I got my hands on some awhile back and dyed them myself. I haven't done anything with them yet. I'm still trying to find the perfect hand wash/moisturizing combination since I have what I like to call "Housekeeper hand syndrome". Those little bugger just cling to me like crazy. I haven't decided what to do with mine either, but I'm probably going to make me a silk snood or cowl.

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CLABBERS's picture

I have never used the hankies, but I have knit with Patons Classic Wool Roving yarn and it does snag on calluses and such. I wonder if it would be better to use latex gloves. They are pretty smooth.


BuduR's picture

I know a woman that wears latex gloves to knit with when using roving. I don't know why it never occurred to me to use them with the blanks. I'd have to get tight ones though. I battle my own stupidity enough while knitting, I don't want to have to battle a pair of gloves too.

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AKQGuy's picture

Better yet, get some of that sugar or sea salt body scrub, and use it on your hands. Leaves them soft for many projects. Whenever I spin silk I utilize it. There are some easy recipes here if like me you want to make your own.