Saturday, September 16, 2006

Spinning Silk Hankies

Countdown to the 22nd when the sock pattern is released and the socks start flying to their destinations. Yarn and needles are ready, the swatch is made and gauge is good. Problem is, I've fallen in love with the yarn. So has Aurora. Knitting the swatch I kept seeing handwarmers keeping my hands warms for those occasional music gigs where Crooked Finger Band is expected to play in a cold setting.

Finally, a post about my findings in silk spinning, this post will be about what I found in spinning from the hankie form. To anyone who may not know, I have only spindles - no room for a wheel in my house. I learned to spin just over a year ago so these are tidbits of what a beginner is observing while exploring the spindling of silk. Keeping in mind that many people still have only dial-up access, I'll post more pictures along with more spindling in future posts.

I've been spindling silk off and on for about a year. After an initial disasterous start with Tussah silk on a top-whirl spindle I'd given up. To my great delight the combination of a Turkish Spindle (Bottom whorl)and some Bombyx silk roving worked magic in my hands. Long shiny threads of silk spun through the air with only an occasion "drop" of the spindle.

Seeing silk hankies of greens and blues, and another hankie of reds, Ed latched onto them suggesting I try spinning from them. Silk hankies? How in the world was I supposed to spin from a square made up of layers of thin silk?

Carefully pealing off the topmost layer of silk I looked at it from all angles. I wanted to cut off the thicker rim but on closer inspection realized there's a lot of silk bundled in those edges. So I gently pulled a corner and started a drafting area then proceeded to spin directly from the thin hankie, prepping and drafting as I spun. The problem was, the thicker rim tended to cause lots of slubs. I like spinning smooth, satiny threads, not ones full of lumps. So I search the internet but found nothing that discussed the thickness of the rims - though I did find some very good information. Mostly what I learned is that the square needs to be made into rovings first!

Poke a hole in the center of one of the thin hankies and with your hands widen the loop until it stretches to a long continous circle of roving. Break the loop, thin to predraft stage and you're ready to spin.

By stretching the hankie into roving the rims are also thinned and stretched, giving a much smoother roving. There are still slubs which doesn't thrill me. From my very limited experience with the hankies I prefer spindling directly from purchased rovings. One advantage I found in spindling hankies is that each individual hankie spins up very quickly, so it seems I'm accomplishing lots. But when I factor in the time it takes to peel off an individual hankie and circle it into a roving then incorporate it into my draft I'm sure spindling from the purchased roving is much quicker overall.

This picture shows two small segments of silk spun from the hankies. The top piece is from a hankie which was circled into a roving. There are still slubs but not as many as in the bottom piece which was spun directly from the square of hankie.

Stitch Diva recently asked Ed if he could make stoppers for our knitting needles. Always up for a new challenge he disappeared into the shop for hours.
This is what he's developed: Isn't he amazing!

He's been hard at work turning and carving smaller crochet hooks, with a pearl finial, from different exotic woods for various orders. These are made only on demand.

On the home front: Earlier in the week I discovered that the spinning with Turkish Spindles booklet I wrote was totally erased from the computer! I have no idea how it happened but, not to worry, I've saved a copy to a CD. Only, the computer couldn't open the CD and the only other electronic copy I'd saved was an older version in PDF which can't be edited. I have an order for 60 which have to be printed and bound by next Friday! What a long process reentering all the information and formating the book. On that same day I was given the pages for the quarterly magazine I proofread. That job was finished and dropped off at the editors this afternoon.

Thursday morning just as I was gearing up to work on the spinning book Ed walked into the house bearing a five-gallon bucket full of green beans. The morning was spent canning. I'm so thankful for friends who share their garden! There's nothing like home canned green beans.


Blogger Jo said...

Fascinated by your adventures in silk - keep us posted. And Ed's needlestoppers are PERFECT. When will they be on sale? We need them NOW! While his special crochet hooks look so desirable.

On the canning, freezing, saving season, I'm having problems with a glut of black grapes (yes, really, here in West Cork). Any ideas on how to save them for future use? All suggestions welcomed.

2:01 AM  
Blogger Teyani said...

lovely post Wanda- your silk spinning is divine!
I haven't done any canning in the last few years, but I just love the look of the jars all lined up on the shelf.

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Marianne said...

You have been one busy woman, spinning, canning, it all looks soooo good. Thank you for the spinning information, I find it all completely intrigueing, and am dreaming of spinning.....and will at some point get with you on that, turkish spindles, I know Jo loves her...for now I must continue dreaming and get the holiday knitting accomplished.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous angie cox said...

Wow that is amazing ..and such lovely coloured silk.

4:19 AM  
Blogger rho said...

Ohh pretty..... and all those beans done up - looks so wonderful-won't they taste yummy in the middle of winter.

I haven't learned to use my spindle yet but I keep taking it out and admiring it...

fragraragga -- third time is a charm right on these blasted word verifications -- they are not made for people with dyslexia....I even triple check them...and spell check sure doesn't help ;)

8:12 AM  

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