Monday, September 13, 2010

From Raw to Rawr: My Silk-Spinning Adventure

One of the things I bought at this year's Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival was silk.
I bought two bags of natural (i.e., not bleached) Tussah silk. Not having heard that silk is "so hard to spin," I just sat down at my wheel and gave it a whirl. I spun that silk obsessively (hmm ... seems to be the case anymore for anything I spin), including at this year's Highland Games.
Yes, I like to spin without shoes -- sue me. I'd applied a lovely shimmery gold nail polish the night before, so my toes were rockin'.
So, once I was done, I had about enough two-ply silk yarn to knit the Clementine Shawlette (pattern: Interweave Knits).
When I say about enough, I mean that it was going to be touch and go. But I do love to live life on the wild side.

So here's a closeup of my shawl. The color is a kind of really old, slightly dirty ivory -- not my best color.
The last weekend of August I attended an all-day workshop on dyeing with indigo and other natural plants. The program was held at the University of Delaware, and one of my FiberGuild buddies was there, too, so I felt a bit more comfortable. Having her there helped me avoid either of my two default settings for social nervousness: either silence or nearly nonstop talking.

I'd thought I might like to dye the shawl blue (i.e., with the indigo), but when I saw the results of the black walnut hull dyebath on another participant's silk fabric, I knew that this was the color for me.
I took this picture on a really sunny day, so the green is really way too vibrant compared to the shawl's real-life appearance.

Take a look at this. This is more what you see when you look at the finished product. There's that true silk shine!
And here's a shot of the whole shawl and the tiny ball of leftover silk. (Excuse the crappy "styling" in this photo. I was trying to get pictures as quickly as possible to keep Loki from suffering a nervous breakdown. He's such a momma's boy, and he didn't like being left inside.)
I can't wait until the next opportunity to spin myself some silk. If you haven't tried it yourself, why not give it a whirl?

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