Friday, March 28

De Worm, De Gum & De Silk

Habu kamikuri silk cocoons

First, I have to thank Wormspit for having such informative and confidence-boosting silk cocoon tutorials on his blog. Heck, he makes it look like any 'ol fool can just chuck a bunch of cocoons in a pot and whip up some  hankies. And this fool did just that.

A few years ago, I went to the TKGA conference in Atlanta where I took a spinning class using a supported Russian spindle and I first ever saw Habu fibers. ( One event affects the other.) I circled around the Habu display a few times before zooming in and swooping up various stainless steel, silk and cotton yarns. And like the magpie that I am, I spied some bags of these kamikuri cocoons and bought a couple for good measure. And just what in the Sam Hill was I going to do with these nifty little blobs of gold? Uh, I them onto stuff? Make groovy fiber jewelry? Put them in a drawer for a few years and then recently find them?

During my recent manic craft week a go-go, I rediscovered the cocoons and decided to do a little research. It turns out that the kamikuri cocoons are considered much like the good looking children in a trophy marriage: decorative but high maintenance as opposed to the more classical bloodlines of their bombyx mori half-siblings.

Luckily, I have all the various chemicals needed for degumming as I'm housing a small DYE FACTORY in my guest bathroom. I like to think that the cocoons were taking a nice hot bath at some ersatz Japanese ryokan after a long spell in a plastic bag.

I'm sure the hardcore degummers have elaborate frames to dry their fibers on. Me? I had a big wire colander in my kitchen.

Then, I carded the dookies out of this snotrag, er, hankie and got some vaguely promising batts.

20 grams, 233 yards. Not too shabby.

Now you must excuse me. The McMansion next door is having their housewarming party and they're having a crawfish boil.
Laissez les bon temps roulez!


Hilde C. said...

You make it sound so easy, but to me it looks like rocket science. The yarn looks like it have this beautiful shine to it. It looks like a piece of jewellery :-)

HPNY Knits said...

Mary I am in awe! you are amazing, and brave. this is so lovely- your very own silk. I can't wait to see what it will be when it grows up.

lobstah said...

Wow, that's hardcore! What gorgeous yarn!

turtlegirl76 said...

Wow. That's so awesome. So very pretty! And 233 yards! You can do something cool with that! And again, such beautiful pictures of it all.

Batty said...

Wow, that's incredible. Such beautiful yarn!

rowena said...

That Wormspit site was an interesting read! In his youth, my father-in-law tells of how his dad used to go out to collect mulberry leaves for the worms. The silk industry was a big thing back then in the Como/Lecco province, and his family was one of the many who raised silkworms. One of the more "gross" recollections was that his father and the rest of the family used to sleep in the room where they kept the worms (in the attic where it was the warmest)...and that the sound of critters chomping and moving around in the nest of leaves was almost to the point of being deafening. Boy, that woulda given me the creepy crawlies!

Garngamen said...

OMG, not so long ago you were a begin-spin... now you degum silk? Again, I must say Im breathless. Truely fearless. Just do it. Amazing. Truely amazing. So, what are you going to do with that yarn? Im just speachless.... stunned.. you are so crafty and smart.