- The cocoon is degummed by boiling it gently in water and soap. That gets rid of all the goo which the silkworm uses to hold it together.
- That had been done a while ago and the cocoon had been dried again. So it was soaked in warm water all day to get it thoroughly wet.
- Then C, who was demonstrating just pulled the cocoon apart with her fingers. She hooked a bit of it onto one of the wooden spikes which you can see on the board.
- Then it was a case of stretching and stretching until the cocoon was entirely stretched over the frame.
- Several layers of cocoon later and there you have it.
- The hanky takes a while to dry. Then it's time for more stretching to get it ready to spin.
I always knew silk was remarkably strong, but my hands actually hurt after a couple of hours of spinning yesterday. Pulling those fibres apart so that they can be spun evenly is quite a task. I have a crazy image in my head of a textile gym--spinning wheels instead of exercise bikes, silk to stretch for arm strengthening and large cones of wool for weights . . . only kidding!