Just before Christmas I decided I wanted to try spinning silk hankies. As they were soooo expensive I went for the cheaper option of buying the hand-dyed silk cocoons and turning them into silk hankies myself. After all how difficult could it be!!!
I went straight to You-tube and searched for “silk cocoons into silk hankies” and found a good tutorial, which showed me step by step how to do it.
So I went straight online and ordered some hand-dyed silk cocoons from Ebay.
They were really pretty colours and had quite a few variations on the same colours. The first attempt I separated the yellow and pale pink and processed them separately. As there were only a couple of each colour I thought that at this rate I would be there forever, so I got all the green ones together.
First of all you simmer them in a pot to dissolve the sericin, I added some washing flakes to the pot.
As you can tell the dye on the cocoons nearly all disappeared into the water, which was a big shame and I was rather annoyed at that.
It takes around 45-50 minutes for the sericin to dissolve, so you have to be very patient and keep pushing the cocoons down to ensure they get thoroughly wet.
Once the cocoons have dissolved, you can see the little silk worms floating about, so I lifted all of the cocoons and placed them into cold water so that they would be cool enough for me to touch.
The next step was more difficult, as all of the cocoons had dissolved into one big lump. Once I got over the grossness of the dead silk worms I soon separated them as best as I could and stretched them onto a wooden frame that my father had made for me. This was really difficult as there were a lot of holes appearing once stretched.
I layered all of the greenish silk hankies onto the wooden frames and left for 20 mins to begin to dry. They didn’t appear to be drying very quickly, so I decided to take them off the frame and I placed them over my radiator.
Once dried, they looked rather professional.
Some tips on this process I have found is to make sure you have ventilation as the dead silk worms do smell a bit. The second is to have a bag or bin to put the dead silk worms into straight away and put it in the bin outside (I left mine in the food recycle bin in the kitchen and boy did it smell after a few hours).
The one part of the process I wasn’t happy with was the way all of the silk cocoons turned into one big ball once the sericin had dissolved. I have only just found out that you are supposed to take the cocoons out of the water as soon as they have softened enough, otherwise you end up with the ball like I did.
I haven’t really decided whether it is worth buying the silk cocoons and turning them into the silk hankies yourself, or to just buy the silk hankies. I still have quite a few silk cocoons left to turn into silk hankies, so I will definitely give it another go and will let you know how I get on.