Friday, September 14, 2007

Knitting With Silk Hankies

Handknit silk treasure bag.By Leigh

Last Saturday was the Western North Carolina Fiber / Handweavers Guild's annual retreat. I signed up for Sheila Church's workshop on knitting with silk hankies.

If you've read my blog for awhile, you may recall that about a year and a half ago, I participated in a silk spinning workshop via the Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers. There were silk hankies in the silk goody pack I ordered for it, but I have to admit that I haven't done anything with them yet. What I have been interested in however, is learning how to knit from these hankies without spinning them. This workshop taught us how to do that. The project we created was a clever little treasure bag. Mine is pictured on the left.

Silk hankies are made from silk cocoons. There is an excellent explanation with photos of this on Wormspit.com.

Dyed silk hankies.
Actually working with the hankies was similar to working with silk caps.

A look at the layers.They come in layers. Usually they are undyed, but our workshop kits came with dyed silk hankies in a choice of colors.

Separating the layers.Layers are separated individually be peeling the top layer back at the corner of the hankies. A quick jerk pulls the entire layer off the top....

Top layer separated.Next a hole is poked through the center of the layer......

Poking a hole in the layer...... and the layer is stretched......

Attenuating the roving...... and stretched until it is the desired thickness.

Ready to knit.Since the silk fibers are so long, it is easier to attenuate it to the desired knitting size. Of course it could also be spun at this point. We learned to add a little twist while casting on, but after that we knitted the roving as is.

Posted 14 Sept. 2007 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com

Related Post -
Silk Caps & What to do With Them - spin hankies the same way

20 comments:

  1. Is this pretty much all I'd need to know to do the silk hankie knitting? I have some hankies from a fiber exchange and have just never done anything with them. This looks like something different than spinning them. lizzyk8@gmail.com

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  2. Ah! I've spun silk hankies before (and have at token few tucked away) but I love that you can knit with them without spinning at all. How clever!

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  3. Thank you Say!

    Lizzie, yes, that's pretty much it. The trickiest part was casting on. I did a knitted cast on and as I mentioned, it helped to twist the fiber a little by hand before casting on the stitches. The twist makes it easier to see the individual stitches. Otherwise, the silk fibers spread out over the needles close together and it's harder to identify the stitches. Since silk doesn't have any elasticity, it helped to cast on loosely. I had a little trouble doing this, so I cast on with a larger needle than I used for the knitting.

    You can use any knitting pattern you wish. Scarves from silk hankies are particularly lovely. We did a small project due to the time allowed for the workshop. Of course I'm a slow knitter, so I finished later at home.

    I really liked this way of using the hankies. It saved a lot of time but still looks nice Silk caps can be treated the same way.

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  4. Wow. Who knew you could do this? Thank you so much. I have a batch of caps that I want to dye and didn't know what to do with. I've never used them before, so this would be a great project to play with. Thanks!!!

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  5. What a great idea - I love short cuts! My mother just brought me a beautiful dyed silk cap from a craft fair, so guess what I am going to try? Once I have finished my socks, that is...

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  6. Such a pretty bag, Leigh! (Well, I would say that, I make them too, although not from unspun hankies - yet.) A friend of mine has made scarves, too, it is a lovely technique.

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  7. Wonderful! I love the look of the hankies but never really thought of what to do with them. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  8. It's funny...when I first started spinning, silk was my fiber of choice. It's easeir to spin than most people think and, even if you mess it up completely, it's still very, very pretty when done. I always said I was going to try caps and hankies. But, for some reason, I never did. I'm thinking now that I'd like to put those back on the "to-do" list...

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  9. Oh so tempting. I am hampered by my pragmatic other self who says, what will you do with that when you spin it. I have a hankie I bought from Judith MacKenzie and haven't spun because I don't want to ruin it...

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  10. Well, that was a very cool tutorial, Leigh! It seems rather straight forward to do. I'll have to file that link away with my 'future projects'! Thanks!

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  11. silk hankies are a blast to play with - so unique and fun - and I hear that they are also great fun to dye (tho I haven't tried it yet)

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  12. very fitting - I just bought 10 packs with 5 each to play around... how many did you need for the bag? I was going to try a scarf, but I am not sure how many I'd need... to be honest, I have used them to finish off dye lots, when there is some left, that works a treat! I spun a few, but I am usually a "neat" spinner, who enjoys smooth and even yarns - which proved to be a bit difficult with the hankies:))

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  13. Bettina, I have to admit that I didn't count how many it took. The little bag weighs about 7 grams. Recommended needle size is US3 to 5. I agree that the hankies would not make an especially even yarn. I did find that with a little practice, I was able to draft the hankies out to get fairly even stitches with no slubby looking areas. This wasn't actually intentional, it's just what happened the more I worked with them.

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  14. thanks, Leigh - the weight will do, I only need to know an approximate value anyway! I have to say that the yarn I spun so far feels very soft to the skin - the one downside seems to be that soft skin is advisable too - otherwise it's a very snaggy business:))

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  15. I have several of the white hankies that I bought at the Maryland Sheep & Wool and have never done anything with them. Now I know what to do. If I can get through some other projects, I will try the hankies. Thanks for some great information.

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  16. What a great post! Thank you so much for showing, I think I´m going to try this :) In a few days my fist Hankies should arrive.

    Nala

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  17. I recently took a spindle spinning workshop and tried spinning silk hankies. I am in love with them, but I need more. Can I purchase them online? Where do you get them (besides shows)?
    Vicki

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  18. Vicki, silk hankies are wonderful, aren't they? Most stores that carry spinning supplies have them. Woodland Woolworks has undyed ones. Also Paradies Fibers. It's fun to dye our own!

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  19. You can buy them at Outback Fibers. It is on the web. How do you join the fiber lengths? Sue

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  20. Hi Sue, I hadn't heard of Outback Fibers. Looks like a good resource.

    I join them similarly to yarn. The ends can be attenuated and overlapped; the ends can be needle woven in to the stitches. Of course, with a small project like this, joining usually isn't a problem.

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