Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mawata Silk Hankies -- Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much mawata fiber do I need to knit a ________ ?

People often ask me how many yards of mawata they need to knit -- a hat, a scarf, mittens. Or they ask how many hankies they need (keeping in mind that a hankie can be one layer or a stack of layers). The best way to determine what you need is by weight, not by yardage, and not by number of hankies. Most people sell mawata fibers by weight. This makes sense since yardage is determined by how much you stretch it. Number of hankies is unhelpful because of the confusion over exactly what a hanky is, not to mention that different stacks can come with widely different numbers of layers. Even individual layers can vary as these are cocoons. Some have more fiber than others Weight is your best measure, and so far this is what I can tell you:

A pair of mitts to fit a small woman's hand will take approx 30grams of mawata silk. To fit a medium to larger pair of hands, you will need between 30 and 40 grams of fiber.

I knit a women's medium pair of bulky fingerless mitts with 30grams of fiber. I will write a post and even a recipe for those one of these days.

My multicolored Hitchhiker scarf (shown above) -- pattern by Martina Behm -- is a shorter version of her full pattern. I knit it in fingering to sport weight on 3.25mm needles. It has 34 "teeth" as opposed to 42 teeth for the full pattern. It measures 52 inches from tip to tip and 9 inches at the widest part. All finished it weighs exactly 40grams. Even though it is striped, I only had two tails to weave in as I simply overlapped each new hankie and knit them right in. I am knitting a second Hitchhiker scarf in oranges, and I expect this one to take 50 grams since I want to make it a bit longer. I bought my Hitchhiker pattern on Ravelry as a download.

I'm selling my mawata silk fiber in 10gram packages so that people can mix and match colours if they wish to without buying a large quantity of each colour. I used many many different colours in the multicolored scarf. For the orange scarf, I am using three different colorways: Psychotic Pumpkin, Silken Sunset (lighter), and Silken Sunset (darker).

2. Why does the fiber look so pale and washed out when I stretch it -- and will it have a sheen again?

Yes! When you see the silk fiber in a stack, it is all glorious, concentrated colour and silky sheen. When you stretch out one hanky, it looks a lot more pale and, well, a lot less exciting. But when you knit it, ah when you knit it, it all comes together again. The colour concentrates and shows off its lovely sheen. It becomes super soft, super light weight. You really can't keep your hands off of it. Which leads me to number 3.


Yup, the one downside of working with mawata silk is that it sticks to everything. If you have dry skin, it will drive you crazy. It will find every tiny flaw in your fingernails. It will stick to a person walking by and walk off with them. Maybe have the cat in another room when you're working with this stuff. What I do, is file my nails and use a good quality barrier type hand cream. Glysomed is my hand cream of choice. Otherwise, it really can drive you crazy. I've also noticed that after I've been knitting it for a while, the silk itself seems to wear off the catchy bits on my fingers. But I still use lots of hand cream.

4. Will it be less catchy when it is knit up?

Yes, it is awesome when it is knit up. Soooo soft, so light, so airy, and so so so comfortable.

5. Can I frog and re-use it after it is knit?

Yes, it frogs really well actually. If you're frogging a bunch, you might want to wrap it around something. A friend of mine frogged her swatch and used it to knit her mitts, and then she frogged the start of those a couple of times, and it all kept working just fine.

6. What else can I make with it?

So far I am aware of the following uses: People are drafting it to spin on a spindle or wheel; people are combing it into their batts with other fibers; people are drafting it and spinning it with other fibers; people are using it in handmade paper; people are felting -- wet felting and needle felting -- it with other fibers...and people are knitting with it without the need to spin it at all.

I have considered hanging some individual hankies from threads to create an awesome jellyfish/sea creature mobile, but I haven't done that yet.

Please feel free to ask questions here -- or by sending me a convo through Etsy. I'd be happy to try to answer your questions or to direct you to a link that might help.


Bonny said...

Wow! I've just read your Mawata posts and have to thank you for the great information on these beautiful, intriguing hankies. I've always wondered what the heck to do with them, and now I know! Your Hitchhikers are really lovely and I think I may have to head to your shop to check out some hankies. This does sound like fun!

jayne said...

Hi Bonny. Yup, it's fun! If you're on Ravelry, it's fun to do a search and see what everyone else is knitting. Mostly mitts cuz of the YH, but other things too.

Della said...

Loved reading about this silk! Now it's going to be a dream of mine til I get to try it. :) BTW, you're on my google reader, so if you post, it pops up. Nice to see you pop up! ~Della

Anonymous said...

I have recently been introduced to this concept of knitting with silk 'hankies'. But why do I sometimes see it spelled / pronounced Mawata, and sometimes Matawa ? I just bought silk hankies from indiodragonfly and it was spelled Matawa. Yet I just took a knitting class from the YarnHarlot and she pronounced it 'Mawata'. What's that about ? And which is correct ?