Susan Litton shows us how to prepare a silk hanky ready for spinning.
A silk hanky is produced from a silk cocoon and is made up of one continuous gossamer thread. The sericin (the glue that keeps the cocoon together) is removed from the cocoon by simmering it for 30 - 45 minutes in a solution of water, soda ash and synthapol. When the cocoon has softened it is pulled out carefully and stretched over a frame to dry. We sell silk cocoons so that you can have a go at making your own silk hankies or you can order ready prepared silk hankies from the George Weil website. This lightweight fibre is sold in quantities of 100g (a wad approximately 2cm deep).
The frilly and glistening edge of the silk hanky can be used effectively in silk paper making and provides a clue to the fine yarn that can be spun from it.
How to prepare the Silk Hanky ready for Spinning
(Susan is using a Top Whorl Spindle - also known as a Drop Spindle)
Peel away one layer, open it out, and push the fibres apart in the centre:
Begin to pull, the fibres will slip easily. Keep pulling to form a long roving:
Tug the fibres apart to make a break. Twist the end and tie-up:
Now you are ready to spin silk hankies!
The Silk Hankies are available undyed or in a range of hand-dyed colours, find out more from our section on Silk Paper Making.