The Skinny on Silk Hankies

Okay Spinners, if you haven’t played with silk hankies yet, I have to recommend the adventure!

Facing a stack of sheer , filmy silk hankies  is such a fun and rewarding spinning diversion. Once you’ve created the sleek shininess that is silk yarn, you’ll have a whole new definition of luxury.

Spinning Silk into Yarn Tutorial

The singles shine so impressively, that it’s difficult to believe how quickly and easily they’re spun up.

Spinning Silk Hankies into Yarn

The process is amazingly simple and straight-forward. Pick up a hankie and poke a hole in the middle with your fingers, pulling outward.

DIY Spinning Silk Hankies into Yarn

Draft the hankie into a long loop. You’ll notice that you have to keep your hands pretty far apart, since silk has such a long staple. I go round and round, drafting different areas until I’m satisfied that it’s as even as possible. You can’t draft silk “on the fly” like you do with wool fiber. The smallest amount of twist locks it up tight, so get it where you want it before you set your spindle in motion. Once you’re satisfied go ahead and break the loop.

Spinning Silk Hankie Into Yarn DIY Tutorial

I’m spinning these hankies up for a knitter friend that dyed them, so I decided to take the time to make a couple of sample skeins to see if I’d get better results as singles or as two-ply. After finishing, I’ve come to the conclusion that I like the two-ply better. It seems more fluid and drapey, less stiff. I learned that silk should be washed in an acidic cleaner, such as Soak. Alkaline soaps will change the quality of the silk.

Spinning Silk Hankie into Yarn DIY

I’ve found that silk hankies do tend to have thicker and thinner areas – they aren’t quite as easy to keep even as tussah silk. If you can forgive the little inconsistencies and let go of your inner perfectionist, I predict you’ll be positively enchanted!

Mom

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11 Comments

  1. Posted January 30, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    What a lovely tutorial. I started spinning with hand spinning silk hankies and have enjoyed it so much that I never migrated to the wheel with them. Your post, however, taught me some important new information about washing. Thanks! And BTW, gorgeous color and spin job!!!

    • Mom
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Jan! Isn’t the color amazing? I can’t take credit for that – a knitter friend of mine dyed them, so I’m spinning them up for her, (in exchange for a bunch of other fiber!) It’s been a fun experience.

  2. Jenny
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I’ve heard of these before, but never come across them at any of my local yarn shops. Where do you get the silk hankies?

    Thanks!

    • Mom
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      A knitter friend of mine sent them to me to spin in exchange for other fibers. However, I’ve seen them for sale online at places that sell other fibers. My local yarn store that also sells fiber has some from time to time. I’d recommend you search etsy. I know I’ve seen them there.

  3. Posted January 30, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never done any spinning before but would love
    to try it. Your tutorial was very interesting.
    Cheers, Anita.

    • Mom
      Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      It’s really fun, and terribly addicting, Anita. Just warning you. ;-)

  4. Tammie
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the great tutorial! I just finished listening to Episode 24 of a podcast from yarnspinnerstales.com which is on dyeing and spinning silk. I’ve never spun with silk but this podcast, along with your wonderful tutorial, definitely have me interested in giving it a try. If I can spin down some of my fiber stash, I’m going to check out Etsy for both silk hankies and silk top. I enjoy both the process and the result of spinning and find myself wanting to try new fibers.

    • Mom
      Posted February 5, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      Oh! Thanks for reminding me of those podcasts, Tammie. I went to re-listen and noticed episode 31 had some silk info too. Yay!

  5. Posted January 31, 2013 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    I’ve seen these. I heard you can knit directly off of them ( I don’t spin) since you played with them – how hard do you think that would be?

    • Posted January 31, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      Ria,
      I’ve tried the knitting the drafted hankies and very easy. Almost too easy. I got bored and decided I liked spinning too much to skip that step. But you could follow the directions in the blog post above through the next-to-last photo and do it. Here is also a YouTube video about it:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stSgvbrcygA
      I would only add that I have rough hands, but don’t feel I need to exfoliate them to draft the fiber. I don’t think I’d like to let the cat sit on the hankies either!

      Enjoy!

    • Mom
      Posted February 1, 2013 at 6:42 am | Permalink

      It wouldn’t be hard at all, Ria. You’d just draft them out, break the loop and get to knittin’!

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