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Fiber weekend – Silk, silk and more silk!

I asked people on my Instagram if they would like to know more about fibers I work with and it was a unanimous YES! I am not a huge expert on any type of fiber, but I do have experience that I accumulated through carding, spinning, knitting and embroidering which I would love to share with anyone who is interested. I figured – weekends are great for longer materials, such as blog posts, also – there are so many fibers I work with, so tune in every weekend to read about them on my blog.

Hand dyed A grade mulberry silk roving

Let me start by saying that if money was not a problem, I would spin everything and anything with silk. I honestly don’t see why all the yarn in the world shouldn’t be made of silk or at least with some silk. It has loads of amazing properties, some of which I will try to cover in this post.

Silk is:

  • Painfully beautiful (that shimmer and shine!)
  • super soft
  • adding nice draping qualities
  • very fine (so it can also be spun into lace)
  • very lightweight
  • strong
  • has great moisture absorption properties (which are actually a pain in the butt when you wash your freshly spun skein of yarn and it takes days to dry in humid days)

What is not to love about silk, am I right?

Price. The silk that has all these great qualities and then some is ridiculously expensive. Granted, it goes a looong and expensive way from caterpillar cocoon to becoming an expensive yarn. Quality silk is still amazing and I sometimes buy some, but I never put more than 5 % even in my most luxurious blends. For all the great qualities that silk has, there are so many substitutes out there, man made or plant based, and I try to experiment with them all (like rose, pearl, mint fibers, nettle, nylon – I will definitely talk about the future posts).

poorly dyed tussah silk noil

There are different types of silks which vary depending on the breed of worm that made the silk cocoon or their diet or location. There also are many different “sub-products” of silk. For example, my very favorite silk product is silk noil, which:

  • is leftovers from spinning the actual long and shinny silk fibers or short fibers of the worm cocoon
  • lacks the length
  • lacks the strength
  • lacks the shine
  • is more comparable to cotton than silk
  • can be used in spinning projects to add texture to the yarn
  • is a lot cheaper than standard silk
yarn made with white silk noil (clearly visible clumps)

This yarn is a very good example of what silk noil looks like when even a tiny amount is added to the yarn – it leaves a visible, chunky clumps, sometimes quite big. It is a great way to add more texture to the yarn, and help it look even more “hand-made” and unique.

In addition to the noils, there also are various silk sari related products, which are usually either waste of sari production or recycled sari silk. Whatever it is, it usually also lacks all or some properties of the premium quality silk (weaker, less shinny, less soft, short etc.).

Merino – bamboo blend colored with recycled sari silk

I have tried recycled sari silk and it is:

  • entertaining to work with (as there are so many different colors packed in a small and light quantity of fiber)
  • not too pricey
  • short (which is great to add small specks of color, but harder to spin)
  • still nice and shinny

By the way, for a month starting October 5th this beautiful merino-bamboo blend with recycled sari silk is on discount! Use this opportunity and snatch yourself a skein! click
https://www.alionanova.com/product/bamboo-wool-yarn-permanently-dirty/

So all in all – silk is sure rich in it’s properties and prices, but totally worth it. So even though I said that I would use it day and night, most of the time I pass it for a great substitute. One of my favorites is nettle fiber, which I will be talking about in my next weekend post. Stay tuned!

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