Thursday, 1 August 2013

Simply silk

Yesterday I went on a silk spinning workshop run by my local spinning guild. I have tried spinning silk in the past, but found it very hard to control, so was looking forward to finding out more from experts. It was a fabulous day. Jenny gave us lots of sample of different silk fibres to experiment with. I found it much easier this time round. Partly I think because I have been spinning so much recently.
We started off by washing our hands with a hand scrub and then using hand cream to moisturise. Silk fibres catch on anything rough. Then it was on with the spinning!
The first silk I tried was Tussah silk tops. This has a light brownish colour which comes from the oak leaves that the moths feed on. I loosened my tension so that the yarn wasn't being pulled into the wheel too fast, giving me more control. I spun two singles and then plied them together. With the little bit that was left over, I did some N-plying. You can see the silk fibre below, followed by the 2 ply skein and the little bit of N-plied yarn.

silk spinning day (4)

After that, I tried bombyx silk. This is, I believe, the top notch of all silks. The fibres are incredibly soft and................... er, silky!! The moths that produce this feed on the leaves of the white mulberry tree. Again, I spun two singles and plied them together, N-plying the remainder. You can see the results below.
silk spinning day (5)

After that, I moved on to some dyed silk cap. I think that silk cap is made from misformed cocoons, which having been degummed, are stretched over a bell shaped frame. Each cap consists of several layers - each one is a separate cocoon. You have to open out the cap and pull off one thin layer. Make a hole in the middle and then draft it out until it's thin enough to spin. This produced a slubby yarn, I liked the texture on it. I made a 2ply yarn and left the remainder as a single as I wanted to try other silk samples.

silk spinning day (6)

Waste silk was next on the agenda. This is a mix of fibres that are discarded when the silk is being spun. The fibres are a mixed length, so sometimes you can draft them out for spinning. Also you can cut them up and card them with wool tops. I tried both. You can see in the photo below the waste silk fibres at the top. Then comes a skein made by carding some cut up silk with some merino tops. (My carding technique left a lot to be desired! I need to work on that!) Then there's a N-plied skein of the silk waste - you can see how 'textured' it is, and a little bit of single at the bottom.

silk spinning day (7)

The last silk fibre I tried was silk noil. This has really short fibres which I found impossible to spin as they were! They can be carded and spun, or mixed with another fibre. I chose to do the latter and made some rolags using some BFL. I really like the rolags, the flecks of silk reminded me of cherry blossom. I actually took a photo of one of the rolags before spinning, it was the only one I took during the day!!

silk spinning day (1)

I really liked the effect on the spun yarn, it reminded me of tweedy yarn with nepps. The silk noil reminds me of 'upmarket' cotton wool!!

silk spinning day (8)

I certainly feel a lot more confident about spinning silk now. I have a couple of little sample packs to play around with before I let myself loose on the gorgeous purple silk brick that I bought at Fibre East. I decided to join the guild too, and hope to become actively involved with them. They meet weekly, so I shall go along next week. I'll keep you posted with the progress on my silk spinning! xxx

Fibre East purchases 007


Anonymous said...

looks like you had lots of fun...I love all your yarns and can't wait to see them in real life and pick your brains too :D

Helsie said...

I think you're very clever. You are getting very good at this spinning lark.

Celia said...

That looks like lots of fun!!

busybusybeejay said...

What a fab day.You really are becoming an expert.I had a long chat with a lady who was demonstrating spinning at Wimpole Hall,near Cambridge on Sunday.Very interesting.

snoopydogknits said...

Hmmm! Impressive! Looks like a great day was had. x

Anonymous said...

looks like a great class and you learned a lot!