Saturday, February 23, 2008

An Experiment in Dying and Spinning Silk Hankies

I ordered a half pound of silk hankies a few weeks ago and was eager to paint and spin them.

The skein on the left, a 2ply ~14wpi, was dyed and spun first. I was a bit afraid to wash the hankies before dying them so I didn't. They seemed so delicate and I didn't want to pull on the fibers or mess up their arrangement. I used Chocolate, Rose Wine and Bronze. The Rose Wine did show up fairly well but the Chocolate and Bronze were very muted and don't really show through in the finished yarn.

The skein on the right was Navajo plied, ~18wpi. I did carefully wash this batch of hankies before dying and the colors are much more vibrant. I found that laying them gently in the bath and leaving them to soak, removing them from the water, draining, then placing them in the rinse to soak worked well and kept the hankies in tack. I folded them into quarters, gently pressed out the excess water and unfolded them immediately. I made the mistake of running water over the first batch when washing out the dye which did mess up their arrangement and create a bit of a mess of the top layers.

I watched a youtube video demonstrating the process of spinning silk hankies by making a hole in the center, then pulling the fiber to the desired thickness. It worked very well except I found that this long strand of this fiber, which catches on everything-itself, carpet, clothing, skin, etc. to be very annoying. I did use this process for the entire first skein and the beginning of the second. I then began to stretch the hankies a bit and draft the fiber from the center. I found this to work much better for me.

The tendency of this fiber to catch on everything it comes in contact with makes it incredibly easy to spin as a very fine yarn. I spun the second skein with the intention of making a thin lacy scarf and, knowing I would Navajo ply, I wanted a fine single.

I'm very happy with the results of both, the first skein turned out light, lofty and nubby and may become a hat. The second should be a scarf by next week. I'll post it as soon as it's done.

I'd love to hear about any experiences any of you have had with spinning hankies, or spinning in general.

Thanks for visiting,
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