Category Archives: Silk

About spinning and weaving with silk yarns

Goddes of Silk: blhsilingsu

Origin of Silk
“Chinese legend gives the title Goddess of Silk to Lady Hsi-Ling-Shih, wife of the mythical Yellow Emperor, who was said to have ruled China in about 3000 BC. She is credited with the introduction of silkworm rearing and the invention of the loom”

The emperor Huang-Ti ordered his wife Hsi-Ling-Shi to investigate what was eating the leaves on his mulberry trees. She found white worms that spin shiny cocoons. According to the story, she accidentally dropped one of these cocoons into her hot tea and a delicate filament separated itself. She drew it out, unwinding a long single strand. Hsi-Ling-Shi had discovered silk.

hsi-lingsu
Hsi-Ling-Su

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ANTIQUE SPINNING WHEEL / WALNUT / 33” HIGH

$179.95
End Date: Saturday Sep-7-2019 17:09:43 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $179.95
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Charkha book style spinning wheel

$130.00
End Date: Tuesday Sep-3-2019 18:56:25 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $130.00
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Whitchurch Silk Weaving Mill: aa031404

I had a delightful visit to the Whitchurch Silk Mill in Whitchurch, UK. It is about 1 1/2 hour drive southwest from London in Hampshire. Whitchurch Silk Mill is a true working mill, still producing silk yardage, using 19th Century weaving looms. The mill is open to the public 6 days per week, Tuesday – Sunday and the visitor can see the weavers at work on the week days.

The mill employs 2 weavers, a warper, an engineer to keep the equipment running and admin staff. Much of the mill is run by volunteers who share an interest in keeping this early 19th Century mill alive.

The silk mill specializes in small run silk and silk blend weaves: 25 meter to 250 meter runs. They produce Taffeta, Organza and Ottoman silks.

The silk is woven at 300-500 ends per inch, with approx. 10500 ends per warp. It takes approximately 1 week to prepare a warp, and about 3 weeks to warp a loom, so whenever possible, warps are tied on or attached to the previous warp on the loom.

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Whitchurch Silk Mill
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Whitchurch Silk Mill Shop

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Silk skeins are being reeled onto bobbins.

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Silk Weaving Looms
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View from the Tea Shop window

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Woven Ribbon
Several bands of ribbon are woven on one warp. These are then cut after removing them from the loom.

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Organza

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Silk Moire

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Silk

Silk Worms
Rainbow Dye Silk
How to Rainbow Dye Silk
Nuno Felting on Silk
Sari Silk
Silk
Weaving Books
Silk Weavers of Hill Tribe Laos: Textiles, Tradition, and Well-Being
Silk for the Vikings (Ancient Textiles Series)
The Practical Spinner’s Guide – Silk

The Weaver’s Companion (The Companion Series)
The Weaver’s Companion (The Companion Series)
Learning to Weave
The Big Book of Weaving: Handweaving in the Swedish Tradition: Techniques, Patterns, Designs and Materials

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Dimity: aa061201

Dimity Cord is an interesting weave structure that produces lines of cord and crepe, depending on the width of the pattern blocks. The vertical stripes alternate between a 1:2 twill wave and an imperfect tabby.

I used the dimity cord draft to weave silk scarves. Each pattern block was 1/2 inch in width. You can adjust the width of the stripes to suit your taste.
dimity scarf

This project makes 2 scarves, each with a finished length of approx. 72″ plus fringe.

Warp 30/2 Silk
Warp length 6 yd
# Ends 260
Sett: 30 epi
Weft: 30/2 Silk
PPI: 30
Width in Reed: 8.5″
Finished Width: 6.5″

Treadling

Allow for an 6″ fringe before beginning your scarf. Weave for 72″ following the treadling plan, using 30/2 silk weft, or another yarn of similar weight.Leave an allowance of 12″ for fringe between the first and second scarf.

After weaving the second scarf allow another 6 inches for fringe.

Leftover Warp

If you have some warp left, weave this off following the treadling plan, in either the same yarn as the weft, or a slightly heavier weight. This can be of silk, cotton, or linen.In the next project, I will give instructions on making a small handbag, using the leftover warp.

Dimity Cord Closeup

Finishing

Finish the edges by making a Twisted Fringe. Wash both scarves and dry. Iron.

Weaving Draft

Dimity Cord Draft
Rosepath
Birdseye
Whig Rose
Summer Winter

Handwoven Scarf Books

Collapse Weave: Creating Three-Dimensional Cloth
Collapse cloth—cloth that, when removed from the loom and washed, takes on an entirely different appearance as the threads draw up and create puckers.
UK: Collapse Weave

Handwoven Scarves
From light silk to chunky chenille, from subtle white-on-white jacquard to bold magenta and goldenrod plaid, from four-inch-wide neck wraps to three-foot-wide body wraps, there is a scarf here to delight and encourage every handweaver.
UK: Handwoven Scarves

Devore: For Weavers & Knitters
UK: Devore

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How to Dye Rainbow Silk: how_rainbow_dye_silk

Rainbow dyeing is a quick and fun method for dyeing silk, wool, mohair or other protein fiber using concentrated CIBA Acid-based powder dyes.

 

Difficulty Level:

Easy

Time Required:

30 minutes

Here’s How:

     

  1. Thoroughly wet the clean fibre or yarn to be dyed.
  2. Fill a large pot with water.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the dyepot and stir.
  4. Add 2 – 4 oz. of fibre or yarn into the dyepot.
  5. Using the end of a chopstick, dip it into the dye powder and then place the dye into the edge of the dyepot.
  6. With another chopstick, dip it into another colour of dye powder and place the dye into the dyepot on the other side of the dyepot.
  7. If using 3 or more colours, repeat Step 7
  8. If dyeing more wool, place another layer of wool into the dyepot and repeat steps 5 – 8, changing the location of dye placement.
  9. Allow dyepot to simmer at least 20 minutes, or until all the dye has exhausted.
  10. If the dye is exhausted before you have sufficient colour, you can add more dye, by gently lifting the edge of the fibre and adding more dye.
  11. Turn off the heat and allow the dyepot to cool
  12. Remove the dyed fibre from the dyepot, squeeze out excess moisture and let dry.
  13. Happy Spinning!

Tips:

  • Use clean, scoured wool.
  • No stirring, or you will get felt!
  • Make sure there is sufficient water to completely cover the fibre. 
  • How To

    How Long does it take to knit
    How to Make an Alum Mordant
    How to Mordant Cotton and Linen Yarns
    How to Sew Handwoven Fabric
    How to Spin a Cabled Yarn
    How to Make a Tin Mordant
    How to Make a Twisted Fringe
    How to Use a Corker
    How to Wash Fleece
    How to Felt
    How to Use a McMorran Balance

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    ANTIQUE SPINNING WHEEL / WALNUT / 33” HIGH

    $179.95
    End Date: Saturday Sep-7-2019 17:09:43 PDT
    Buy It Now for only: $179.95
    Buy It Now | Add to watch list

    Charkha book style spinning wheel

    $130.00
    End Date: Tuesday Sep-3-2019 18:56:25 PDT
    Buy It Now for only: $130.00
    Buy It Now | Add to watch list

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    Mawata Silk: aa073097

    Using the mawata silk that I spun and dyed (described in a previous article), I thought that it would be perfect for making silk wallets. The colours were so stunning in this silk, that I wanted the colour changes to swim throughout the weave structure. I chose an undulating twill pattern, adapting it from Carol Strickler’s book, A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns. p. 52

    A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns: From the Friends of Handwoven

    This project made enough fabric for 6 silk wallets.

    Warp:

    For the warp, I chose 8/2 cotton in bright colours of cyan, bright pink and yellow. I sleyed the reed in stripes of these colours.

    Width in Reed: 10 inches
    Number of Ends: 160
    Sett: 16 e.p.i.
    Length: 3 yards
    Loom waste: 24 inches

    Weft:

    For the weft, I used the mawata silk, spun as a singles. Its nubby texture gave the finished product an interesting feel. I wove the silk weft for 10 inches and then using 2/8 cotton, wove a band of 4 inches in length.

    Finishing:

    I cut the pieces in the middle of each cotton band. Folding the piece of fabric in the centre, I matched up the cotton bands. I sewed in a zipper between the two ends of the cotton bands. Then I sewed up the side edges of the silk, forming the silk wallet.

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    ANTIQUE SPINNING WHEEL / WALNUT / 33” HIGH

    $179.95
    End Date: Saturday Sep-7-2019 17:09:43 PDT
    Buy It Now for only: $179.95
    Buy It Now | Add to watch list

    Charkha book style spinning wheel

    $130.00
    End Date: Tuesday Sep-3-2019 18:56:25 PDT
    Buy It Now for only: $130.00
    Buy It Now | Add to watch list

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    Mawata silk: aa070297

    One type of silk that is available is a “mawata” or silk cap. Mawata caps are formed by stretching the silk cocoons over molds. Each cap weighs about 1/2 ounce. About 25 cocoons are stretched on the mold and then sold as a “bell”.
    If you purchase a bell, separate the number of caps that you need for a particular project. Silk caps dye very easily, however they must be thoroughly wet before the silk can absorb the dye. Soak the caps in water for several hours.
    silk caps
    I used a CIBA acid based dye for wool yarn and other protein-based fibers. Gaywool dyes will also work well for this project. After the caps were thoroughly wet, I dotted small amounts of the dry dye substance – magenta and cyan onto some of the caps. With the other caps, I used Worker Red and Polar (yellow). I had two dye baths going with hot water and a bit of vinegar. I placed the caps into the water and let them cook for about 20 minutes. In the dye bath, the colours blended with each other giving wonderful ranges of purples and oranges, respectively.

    I rinsed the excess dye out in cold water and then hung the caps up to dry.

    Silk is a very strong fiber. If you are not careful with handling, your fingers can be cut quite easily. I use surgical gloves when I am spinning or trying to work the fibers apart.

    The cap can be pulled apart and a thin roving can be drafted from it. Pull the cap apart into thin layers. Then pull it slowly apart working a small hole into the centre of the cap and stretch it into a doughnut shape. Place this doughnut onto an umbrella swift (you probably won’t be able to open the umbrella out much).

    Then try to find a loose thread on the edge of the cap that you can begin to draft from. The strands of silk fiber will start to unravel. This will take quite a bit of pulling and stretching. Sometimes the strands will be quite thin and sometimes thicker. Try to even out the consistency somewhat. I find that used toilet paper rolls are handy for winding the silk onto.

    When the silk is wound into the roving, it can then be spun into silk yarn. The silk roving can be woven into fabric or used as is, but I have found that giving it a slight twist with the spinning wheel makes the fiber easier to handle when it is wound onto the bobbin for weaving.

    I used the silk to weave some silk wallets. If you’ve worked with silk caps, tell us about your project at our Discussion Forum.

    Silk Wallets

    Silk Yarns

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    ANTIQUE SPINNING WHEEL / WALNUT / 33” HIGH

    $179.95
    End Date: Saturday Sep-7-2019 17:09:43 PDT
    Buy It Now for only: $179.95
    Buy It Now | Add to watch list

    Charkha book style spinning wheel

    $130.00
    End Date: Tuesday Sep-3-2019 18:56:25 PDT
    Buy It Now for only: $130.00
    Buy It Now | Add to watch list

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    Silk

    Handspun Silk Top
    Rainbow-dyed silk knits up into a lightweight summer top.

    Silk Wallets
    Rainbow-dyed woven wallets made with handspun silk caps.

    Silk Worms
    Did you know that a silk worm can spin a thread 2 miles long?

    Whitchurch Silk Mill
    A visit to Whitchurch Silk Mill, a working silk mill producing silk yardage, using 19th Century looms.

    Colinette Textile Alchemy
    Colinette has an extraordinary selection of hand-dyed yarns: silk, mohair, wools, cottons.

    Department of Textiles
    From the Smithsonian Institution, information on the silk trade. (bottom part of the page).

    Look China
    Look China imports exotic Chinese cashmere, camel, silk and yak spinning fibres and yarns.

    Louet
    Louet supplies luxury weaving yarns and spinning top: silk, merino, corriedale, mohair, alpaca, linen.

    Nishikie Gallery
    The Silk Laboratory at the Shinshu University has some wonderful images from the gallery showing seriaculture.

    Paradise Fibers
    Paradise fibers searches for luxurious fibres from around the world, including, combed bombyx and tussah silk, cultivated silk top, bricks and bells.

    Robin and Russ
    Robin and Russ has an interesting supply of weaving yarns, too numerous to list fully on their website.

    Silk Museum
    The Silk Museum in the Netherlands takes you to the miraculous world of silk, showing the process from the silkworm to the handpainted silken product.

    Treenway Silks
    Treenway has luscious silks and lots of great info about silk too.

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    ANTIQUE SPINNING WHEEL / WALNUT / 33” HIGH

    $179.95
    End Date: Saturday Sep-7-2019 17:09:43 PDT
    Buy It Now for only: $179.95
    Buy It Now | Add to watch list

    Charkha book style spinning wheel

    $130.00
    End Date: Tuesday Sep-3-2019 18:56:25 PDT
    Buy It Now for only: $130.00
    Buy It Now | Add to watch list

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    Silkworms: aa062797

    Silk has always had a romantic appeal. Silk production was a closely guarded secret, developed by the Chinese about 4000 years ago. The silk fiber is triangular, giving it unique light reflecting properties. Silk fiber is stronger than steel, yet can be spun and woven into the most delicate of fabrics.

    The silkworm starts its life as a pin-head sized egg. Eggs are place on a fine mesh tray, covered with choppedy mulberry leaves The grubs emerge in about two weeks and then feed voraciously. They shed their skins as they grow.

    Each shedding is called an instar.
    Life of the Bombyx shows images of the growth of the silk worm.

    When the larvae is about 4 inches in length, it stops feeding and is ready to pupate and to spin its cocoon. A silk worm can spin a thread more than two miles long.

    After the cocoon is complete and the pupa is removed, the fibers are slowly opened. The long filaments are drawn out from the edge into a roving that can be spun. Silk is processed in reeling and twisting factories.

    Raising Silk Worms
    How to raise silk worms in the classroom

    Macclesfield Museums
    Visit the virtual silk museums – from egg to cocoon.

    Genetically Engineerind Spider Silk
    Mutant silk worms are being raised to produce silk stronger than steel.

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