Monday, February 1, 2016

Getting the silk out of storage

Over the weekend I went looking through my non-priority yarn stash, which is always going to be an adventure. Obviously I just did a big clear up here a couple of weeks ago, so in theory I should be able to put my hands on what I was looking for straight off, but I didn't actually tackle the yarn storage cupboard at that time so it was a surprise to see this work in progress at the bottom of a drawer:

I don't know whether you remember a Yarn Harlot post, lo these many years ago, about knitting mittens straight from unspun silk hankies, but I do.  Mostly I remember how much I looooved the colours in those mitts.  But I also remember how it captured the imagination of knitters everywhere, leading to a shortage of silk hankies available for sale.  I was lucky and secured a stack from Helena and promptly started... well, it looks like I started a pair of Churchmouse fingerless gloves.

Sadly I had no idea how to knit from a silk hanky and my learning curve was steep.  I didn't get very far before I decided to work on something else for a few days.  Oops.  Finding it again, I was much more interested in the material than in the mess I had made of it.

Technically, I don't love knitting with silk in any form. It has no twist or spring, and it's the endless adaptability of spun wool that I find so comforting when I knit, the way it reminds me of what I need to be to make it mostly unscathed through life.  But when it's set out in a square like this, the contents of a series of pods (I know that's not the correct word, but it's early) stretched over a frame in layer after layer, silk is quite amazing.

The finish on the hanky is flat and, at this time of year with rough dry hands, quite catchy, but at the right angle you see the most beautiful sheen.  Okay, the right angle is probably in the knitted object, but still.  SO GORGEOUS.

(that's the second wrist, by the way.  I actually cast on two gloves and didn't make much headway on either.)

(got catchy scratchy dry hands?  wash them with baking soda before handling silk yarn or hankies. mega softening, without the sticky of lotion.)

Thanks to my positive emotional response to the recent big purge, it was pretty easy to decide that gloves I botched several years ago are never going to be finished, and I let them go.

The hankies deserve something better, and are now lying in wait for inspiration to strike.  I think a cowl though, don't you?  Something very soft and ethereal that transitions from pink to green?

That'll be a really satisfying project, I bet.  And now that I know how to spin, I might even be able to draft off a much larger strip of silk for every round and make the project go a little faster than the last attempt.

Hope you had a good weekend and I'll see you tomorrow!


Laurinda said...

Lovely colors Mary, & I may have to try a project straight from a silk hankie. I'm a silk junkie & have MANY. Do let us know if you decide on a cowl, & what pattern you use
I did so much gift knitting for Christmas, that all I want to do is knit pretties for myself. The problem is that I have 4 shawls, 3 sleeveless tops, a hat & scarf set all waiting for my attention- I definitely don't need another project. Did I mention that I joined a valentine swap against my better judgement? I'm knitting mine again :-D

Mary Keenan said...

I will totally keep you up to date on my silk hanky progress and don't worry about the extra temptation coming any time soon because I am up to my eyeballs in countertop and flooring choices ;^) Knitting swaps - you're so lucky! I love those and can't commit because Renovation. Next year, fingers crossed...