Wow! That was fast!


Sometimes when we get “infected” with the desire to do something, there is nothing that will stop us. This is how the silk hankie experiment went last night. After an hour I had the whole thing spun up. I was actually sad that it was the only one I had.

So for those that posted they wanted to see this process I attempted to take some photos while doing it last night.

First of all if you look at the silk hankie closely there are layers along the edge much like you get with those flaky layer biscuits in a can.


Just grab one and peel it back. It will stick to itself a bit, but keep tugging. Soon you will have this super thin layer of something that resembles halloween cobwebs.


Once you have your thin layer, poke your fingers through the middle, or as close to the middle as you can get. (I didn’t get any photos of this as it takes two hands leaving me with none available for photos. Just stick your hands in the hole and pull out until you have a sizeable loop. You can then move along the loop drafting it out as you wish. I did mine a bit thick, but it will go pretty thin if you want it too. Find a good place to “break” the loop so you have one long piece. Then you are ready to spin it up!

I just spun it up on the spindle! You could also spin it on a wheel, but I found this to be excellent spindle spinning. Good practice for drafting too!



I finished the whole thing within an hour! I couldn’t believe it. Just like potato chips. Peeling the layers off was exciting as well as drafting it out.  I did find a few things surprising about silk since I have never worked with it before:

  1. The sticky factor. I was expecting silk to be super slippery like alpaca. But no, it was actually rather grippy.
  2. The strength of the silk surprised me. I could pull it tight and it felt rope strong but at the same time I could easily break it where I needed to make the piece of roving.
  3. Shine. It is soooo shiny!
  4. The texture wasn’t as smooth as I was thinking silk would be. This also connects with the sticky factor. I think the fibers doing slip past each other as easily as with things like merino or alpaca. So it gives it a bit of a thick and thin texture by default.
  5. I want more.
  6. Did I mention that I need more of these?

Overall this was a great experiment. I’m sure there are much better resources out there, so if any one has some, I’ll be glad to add them to the end of the post here so others can find them.

Until next time…


8 thoughts on “Wow! That was fast!

  1. Ooooo, thanks for the photos, I understand a bit more about what they are like. They look really fun to play with. I may treat myself to some at some point, once I get the hang of regular fibre!

  2. I am so glad you enjoyed the experience. They look great, all shiny and beautiful! I just wanted to say a word about spinning silk. Silk hankie spinning is very very different from silk spinning. With silk hankies, all the little fibers are in disarray in the hankie and they kind of cling to each other, making it a pretty easy spinning experience. That is why I use it to teach spindle spinning, as it gives the idea of drafting before you get to the hard stuff.

    However, when spinning silk roving (or top, or sliver) all the silk fibers are aligned perfectly and that stuff is very slick and slippery. It acts differently than silk hankies.

    Then again, I always say that there is no particular fiber that is hard to spin, just different preferences among people. So, try it all and decide for yourself what you enjoy spinning, don’t say “That’s too hard, I should save that for later.” When I was a new spinner, I found silk blends the easiest to spin. Merino/silk, BFL/Silk, if it had silk in it, I could spin it finer, faster, and more even than anything else I encountered.

    If you enjoy the silk hankies and are searching for more, they are also often listed under their technical name, mawata. Silk caps (or bells) is another prep you can look for, as it also gives a similar grabby silk experience.

    And finally, if you are having trouble with the silk sticking to your hands, make a brown sugar scrub out of brown sugar and olive oil, exfoliate, wash your hands, put lotion on them, and then spin. This helps immensely.

    (I should have probably just written my own blog post.)

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