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KnittyspinHandy plyingSpinning silk hankies

In my opinion, there is no easier fiber to spin on a drop spindle than silk hankies. Why?

- You do all the drafting before you pick up the spindle.
- The fiber has just enough tooth to not slip through your fingers uncontrollably.
- The finished yarn can, depending on how you spin it, be quite shimmery
- It's great fun and rarely frustrating. Really encouraging for a new spinner.

Both silk hankies and silk caps are piles of individual lighter-than-air silk cocoons, spread on a form to dry -- this gives them their shape. For hankies, it's a square, flat form. For caps, it's a bell-shaped form. I prefer hankies, because I find it easier to separate the layers.

You can buy silk hankies undyed from many shops on the internet. You can dye the hankies [en masse, rather than individually, cause that would just drive you mental] using any dye that works with silk, including Kool Aid. Watch Knittyspin for an article on dyeing silk hankies in a future issue.

You can also buy dyed hankies. The ones shown in this article were bought from via Crown Mountain Farms, a very friendly online retailer.

In all cases, my spindles are in the 1.2oz range. Use whatever spindle suits you and the kind of yarn you want to spin.

How to spin silk hankies:

Tip: Use an exfoliant [like a scrub you'd use for your face or body, or make a batch of one of these recipes] on your hands before you spin. Any little bit of dry skin will catch the silk as you spin and be annoying to you.
Tip: Stop and knit with a little of your hanky roving or yarn as you plan to use it before you make up a whole bunch. Do you like how it looks? Maybe you drafted it too thin or too thick. If you're a new spinner like I am, actually knitting the stuff may help guide you better to creating roving that's the diameter you want it to be. [Drafting was so much fun that some spots in my spun hankies are thin enough to be dental floss. It's easy to get carried away.]


Now you're spinning! Just keep going until you run out of hankies or need a break.

Further reading:



Amy R Singer is obsessed with spinning silk hankies and may never spin anything else.

Special thanks to The Black Lamb for allowing us to shoot these photos at their shop.