Thursday, May 25, 2006

Mulberry Silk Noil

Mulbery silk noil, grade A.
On the spinning front, I’ve started working with silk noil. We received three different types in our silk packs. I liked the grade A mulberry noil best, and so decided to work with it first.

Close-up of teased mulberry noil.Noil is considered a waste product from the silk industry. The fibers are actually the short threads the caterpillar first spins to anchor itself for the process of cocoon spinning. The noils are little bits of broken cocoon, pupae shell, and any other odds and ends leftover from the cocoon spinning process. There are excellent photos of this and silk working in general at

There are quite a few possibilities of what I can do with my silk noil. Some I want to dye, some I plan to blend, and I would also like to try my hand at silk fusion paper making. But the mulberry noil I decided to spin on its own.

Basket of handcarded noil rolags.

Close-up of control card.
The ½ to 1 inch fibers were easily and quickly carded into rolags on my cotton hand carders. I spun it long draw with lots of twist. You can see from my control card how textured it is. I’m not sure how well I like those little pieces of cocoon and whatnot in the yarn. I picked the biggest ones out, but there were too many to get them all.

Here are the particulars:

* Weight, 28 grams
* Fiber length was ½ to 1 inch
* Abundant bits & noils
* Spinning ratio 10:1
* Spun woolen method
* Singles, 20 WPI
* 2-ply, 16 WPI
* Yardage, >89

The challenges:

* Dealing with all the noily bits took a little getting used to. The fiber alone tends to spin out sewing thread fine, while the noils create relatively giant slubs. I had to take care during spinning to maintain the integrity of the yarn.

* Treadling and drafting speed. I had to experiment a bit with this and finally settled on a fairly slow speed to both treadle and draft. This enable me to get the twist I needed but still control the noily parts of the fiber.

* Too much whiteness! I wanted to spin it as-is since I’ve never worked with silk noil before, but my eyes really long for color in the process. I will dye some next and so spin it with some color.

And of course, the yarn:

Handspun mulberry silk noil yarn.
Related Posts:
Dyed Silk Noil/Alpaca Yarn - blending acid dyed noil & alpaca
Spinning Tussah Silk Noil - scouring & spinning
Silk Fiber Fusion - using dyed silk noils

1 comment:

Jackie said...

Nice yarn. I was wondering how it would spin up with all of the littel "extra" bits in it.