Monday, July 23, 2012

Hand-dyed Silk Hankies

The dyed silk hanky photos are ready for listing in the etsy shop. I know this probably looks like a mish-mash of color - it's 20 of the 22 colorways. There approximately 1 ounce of each which spun thread thin will yield a tremendous amount of yarn.

My favorite method for spinning a hanky is to pull off one very thin layer (one cocoon's worth), punch a hole in the center with my finger and then start pulling it out into a large circle eventually breaking it at one end - so what's left is a long length of silk roving ready to spin. In spinning I make sure I hold my hands far apart as the silk fibers are very long and strong. It will want to spin thread thin on it's own.

Oh, just had a thought, some may not know what a silk hanky is. A silk cocoon is degummed and stretched over a square frame with one nail in each corner which is where the hanky shape comes from. Many of these cocoons are layered on top of one another. Usually the hankies are a pretty nice square like some of those above, but my last order of them were pretty weird shaped, not so pretty but will spin just the same. This same process may be done on a form similiar to a hat form which creates what are called silk caps.


  1. I'm glad you explained what a silk hanky is -- I first thought you had dyed regular store-bought hankercheifs. Is the cocoon where the silk worm lives? Does he leave it before the cocoon gets used?

  2. Yes, the cocoon is where the silk worm lives, it builds it much like a caterpillar that turns into a butterfly does. Sadly the silk worm gives it's life so we may have these silk hankies. The cocoons have to be degummed in order to process them into the hankies or even into reeled silk yarn. It's done in hot water so they are boiled to their finish. Sad for those little silk worms.....


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