Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tutorial: Knitting With Silk Hankies

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Silk Hankies seem to be the craze lately. I discovered them recently at North Country Fiber Fair in Watertown, SD. But many got their first glimpse on the Yarn Harlot's blog.

But what do you do with this stack of squares? You can't knit with a square, can you?

Well, there's probably a way, but the trick with silk hankies is to first turn them into something resembling yarn.

How do you do that?

Step 1: Peel away the smallest layer you can by grabbing a piece of the corner, and peeling it back. The layers like to stick to each other, so you'll feel a bit like you're ripping it apart. But that's okay!

Notice how thin this layer is. You can see my hand right through the meshy layer of silk.

Step 2: Poke a hole in the center of your square. Yep, just shove your thumbs right into the center. Then using your fingers, pull from the center, outward.

Step 3: And STRETCH!

Keep stretching, moving slowly around the loop of silk, working one section at a time.

If the section you're working on won't stretch, your hands are probably too close together. Move your hands further apart and try again. Silk fibers are long. Our aim isn't to break them all...it's to spread them out.

How do you know when you're done? Your loop should be a relatively consistent thickness. You'll probably want to make it somewhere between a DK and worsted weight.

Notice that there will be some bits of nubbiness. Your yarn may even have some thick-and-thin qualities. That's what makes it interesting!

So now what? You have a large loop of silk, all stretched out to the thickness you desire. But you want to knit with it, not wear it as a humongous necklace, right?

That's simple!

Step 4: Break it!

Now you have a length of unspun yarn.

(If you wanted, you could then spin this, but for our purposes, we're just going to knit with it as-is.)
Step 5: Start knitting!
How do you join strands? When you're done knitting up one strand, make another from another square.  Overlap the end of your old strand with the beginning of your new strand. Roll them together a bit between your hands (almost as if you're spit splicing). They won't felt together, but the tackiness of the silk will help hold the pieces together. Knitting with them overlapped will help hold them together even more.

Tip: Break each square in the same place (within the same color section) each time for a smoother, less noticeable join.

The sample here is a shawl knit on size US9s. (CO 3 sts. Then for every row following, k1, yo, knit to the end. Keep going until you have a large triangular shawl in the size you want.) I'm using two different colorways and alternating between them. One square from one colorway followed by one strand from the other colorway. Both of the colorways I'm using have green, so I broke each loop within the green portion for a seamless transition.

Tip: Bring lotion to the party. Silk in this form tends to stick to any rough patch of skin it can find. It seems to be less tacky once it's knit up.

Note: This is a great way to impress and amaze your knitting friends at your local knit night. Take a stack of hankies for show-and-tell!

Silk hankies will be available in the JL Yarnworks store later this week!

1 comment:

Casey said...

This is really frickin cool, Mrs. JLY (I don't really know much about blog etiquette, but I think using full names is naughty)