Thursday, August 13, 2009

More Silk

One more silk picture: Here are some cocoons which have been stretched on a frame to turn it into a silk hanky. Here's how it works:
  • 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!


Dee said...

silk gym... why kidding? it sounds so crazy that it just might work...

knitspingirl said...

textile gym - brilliant! That's one gym I might even attend!