Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I have mawata and I'm not afraid to use it

My mawata, aka silk hankies, from Helena's shop arrived last Friday, looking compact and adorable:

and being a little daunting.

As in, when I unrolled the stack to take more pictures, they kept catching on my hands, which was a big clue that playing with silk hankies is going to be very different from the rest of my knitting adventures.

Clearly research was in order.

I found a website describing with pictures how to work from a cap (which is pretty much just a different shape from a hanky, but follows the same principle), a more detailed blog post with - okay, seriously gorgeous and colourful - pictures of drafting a hanky from the centre outward, and another blog post with a description of how to draft a hanky from the corners so as to avoid having the silk hurt or even cut your fingers.  Yep, it's that strong.

I also found a YouTube video of the process, the hanky portion of which begins around the 3:35 mark...

... and a lot of other sites as well.  The upshot is, the silk is very catchy for everybody and not just me; the most sensible suggestions included exfoliating with sugar and olive oil, wearing surgical gloves, or throwing caution to the wind.

** Reality Check **
Whoever has the willpower to moisturize before playing with silk hankies has my admiration, and ditto anybody who can put the texture of a surgical glove above that of silk. I just let the stuff catch, and a good thing too as I found out while drafting one hanky too close to the remaining stack that the silk will also catch on itself.  How annoying would that be, if I'd put all those barriers up between me and the silk only to have to detangle anyway?

And now on to what I'm actually going to do with these.  Ha!  there was method in the madness of knitting fingerless gloves when I was supposed to be doing the Secret Pattern - I want to make a pair with the silk, and I wanted to be sure I understood the pattern before the hankies arrived because I can guarantee I will mess up the drafting and anything else that's required.

My particular stack of hankies included a few that are straight pink, a few more that have a deep rose in the middle, and quite a lot that are pink on one half and green on the other. I decided to use the pink for cuffs and drafted it first (Friday night, too late for pictures)... and then I knit a cuff because did I mention I have little to no self control?

I think even that terrible nighttime picture up there shows some of the glistenings of the silk. The hankies look fuzzy, but when you draw out the fibers they positively gleam.  It's quite amazing.

The deep pink might come at the end as a border if I run out of silk...

... and I'm thinking the bulk of the hand will be the pink and green.  I read that you can get more of a blended colour effect by drafting from the corners rather than from the middle so I tried both, and found that while the corner trick does make it less hurty on the hand, the center trick didn't hurt my hands much at all. Also I got the same colour result either way.  This probably means I'm doing something wrong, but I'm okay with that.

How addictive this stuff is: just taking it outside to photograph, I couldn't stop myself from doing a little more drafting.

It's so easy to do - and sadly, to overdo.  But why complain?  It's not every day you get to work with fiber and a project that are both completely irresistible.

(at least, it'd better not be every day, because I do have a deadline... luckily, the Secret Pattern uses yarn that's equally irresistible.)


Kathleen Taylor said...

I have never knit with unspun silk. I have a bunch of undyed hankies on hand, so I'll have to give it a try. But spinning silk hankies, or caps, on a spindle is really easy. For me, silk wants to come out thread-size, so I don't spin it often since I have no need to thread-size yarn. But it's so beautiful!

glk said...

It looks so delicate, I'm sure I'd mess it up ;)

Mary Keenan said...

that's what's so weirdly intriguing - it looks fragile, but it's super strong!