gather and grow

Homegrown, hand-spun living in the city

In the course of this fall and winter, I’ve slowly been spinning my first silk yarn out of the unprocessed silk worm cocoons I ordered from here.

IMG_0442To tell you the truth, when the package first arrived in the mail, I had very little faith in my ability to spin anything out of that mass of fiber. The tiny cocoons were so tightly wound up, like cotton balls shrunk to a third of their size and condensed and matted in the process. Out of fiber finer than what spiders spin, the little silk worms had constructed what seemed to me impermeable fortresses. How would I be able to pull anything resembling a fine silk thread out of them?

But once I decided to give it a try, I found that the silk almost spins itself. These wispy fibers are so tensile and long and strong, with perfect crimp (spinner lingo for the curls that make individual fibers interlock with one another, making a continuous yarn possible). The pull of the spinning wheel draws out a hundred or so of these fibers at a time, and my job is mostly to manage the thickness and keep out most of the lumps. I am in awe of the silkworms — they really know what they are doing. They are my new #1 spinning teacher!silk-3 silk

As usual, while immersed in the meditative rhythm of hand-spinning, I’ve been thinking about what to make out of this yarn once it’s ready. This time, it’s been an easy decision. This will be a small-ish amount of yarn, just enough for a small item of clothing or two…  and incredibly soft yarn at that, the kind that will feel good against the most sensitive, new-to-the-world skin… and that will be perfect for the early summer months of May and June. Yes, I have just the perfect recipient, someone very special, in mind!

4 thoughts on “Spinning silk

  1. Reblogged this on SpinningJulie and commented:
    Thank you for your beautiful and helpful pictures! You are such an inspiration to me.

  2. Lovely! I can just feel the silk in those pictures.

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