Saturday, June 23, 2012

More Mawata

I don't know if anyone follows this blog anymore, but there was a day when I was a cheerfully prolific blogger, and then I got into doing other things and the blog collected dust. A lot of dust. I'm blowing off the dust and seeing if I still have anything to say. My inspiration for doing this is...

Mawata Silk Hankies!!

I have been dyeing these and selling some locally through my favorite LYS Black Sheep Yarns in Port Moody. Now I want to sell them in my Etsy shop. You can access my Etsy shop at any time by clicking on the mini Etsy on my side bar to the right.

I find the number one thing that gets people hung up on working with mawata silk hankies is that they don't know what the heck to do with them. Remember how intimidating cable knitting is until you knit some cables? It's the same with mawata silk hankies. And the great thing is that mawata fiber is really fun, forgiving, and difficult to ruin, so you can play away with little risk. The number one reaction I get from people trying it out for the first time is, "hey! This is fun!" And that, I think, is the point of it all. So I'm dusting off the blog to share the fun, to give some help with a new (to many) knitting adventure, and to get talking about knitting again. It's all good.

Some Basics:

When you buy mawata silk fiber, it usually comes in a nice tidy square stack. I'm selling mine in 10gram packages that yield approx 10-12 individual hanky layers. The thing looks super neat and tidy at first:

But once you get them out of the package, they can quickly turn into a small mess:

But don't let that intimidate you because no matter how messy they seem to get, you can always separate out the layers you need. When I'm working with mine, and I'm ready to put it away, I just gather it up into a handful and shove it into a ziploc baggy.

So no worries about appearance. When you are ready to knit your mawata, here is what you do. First off, you'll notice that each stack has a bunch of layers. You can tease apart the layers at a corner, and it will look like a bunch of really thin cobwebby squares with slightly thicker edges (that can resemble a selvedge edge of fabric).

You want to get the top selvedge layer separated from the others and peel off the top square.

Don't worry about ripping it or breaking it. Silk is surprisingly tough. The square will distort and maybe turn into something that looks more like a jellyfish, but you will peel it off. You might even have to give a sharp yank at the end to get it to let go of the stack.

And now you have one layer of silk to work with.

If you accidentally get two layers and you can't get them apart, it's no big deal. You will end up with a longer piece to knit. The only downside is that it can take a bit more work to stretch two into a knittable string than one, but it really is no big deal. Ok, now that you have one layer, the fun begins. You poke your fingers through the thin cobwebby part in the middle and make a hole.

Then you get both hands in there and pull and pull and pull the square into a long wide loop.

The longer and thinner you make your loop, the longer and thinner your yarn will be. When your loop is stretched the way you want it, you'll pull it apart to create a string. At that point it is yarn. You can tie a knot in it. You can cast it on. You can knit with it. You can spin it, but you don't need to. Just try holding it only a few inches apart and then see if you can break it. It's easier to stretch out if you hold it much further apart (one or two feet apart). They make parachutes with this stuff. It's strong.

Some people get a little hung up on this part: How big should my loop be?? How thick should my yarn be?? Well, it all depends on what you want to knit. If you want reaaaallllly super thin yarn to knit spider web lace, then you can make it as thin as you want. Silk can go a long long way before it breaks. If you stretch it only a little, you'll have thicker yarn. If you're terrible at judging how thick you want your yarn to be, you'll need to experiment a little. Get out different sizes of knitting needles and see what happens. I found that I liked to stretch it to sport weight and knit it on 3.25mm needles for the scarves I knit (more on them later). Yarn Harlot stretched hers to DK/light Worsted to knit mitts. I stretched two layers together into bulky for a pair of fingerless mitts. It's all up to you. If you stretch it too far, then overlap it, double it up, fold it in half. If it's not thin enough, then stretch it some more.

The best part is knitting with it. You use it just like regular yarn, and when it runs out, you stretch out another one, overlap the ends a few inches and carry on. No fuss. No tails.

And if you want to watch a really helpful YouTube video on how to do what I've described above, you can check out This one from KnitPicks.


ebbandflo said...

yes - i'm still here! and oh my! i have plans for these (once i get the extra hour in the day!) for my textiles vice.

have a great summer :)

jayne said...

You!!! Big waves hello)))

ebbandflo said...

waves back!!

Chantel I. said...

Hi Jayne! Don't stop blogging... Or at least, take it up again. I love your yarn, and the fact that you're local, and want to read all about what you're working on. Cheers!

Sweetwater Designs said... very cool is that. Saw your fibers on Etsy after searching hand dyed silk..who would have thought you could knit with this stuff??? Now to learn to knit... :-D


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Myra said...

Awesome I have always wondered how to use these! Thank you Jayne! Myra Grodzuik