I went to a silk spinning workshop with Priscilla Lowry this weekend. It was challenging, frustrating for a bit until I settled to achieving massive amounts of non-perfection – then it was all FUN!
Priscilla is one of those teachers who makes learning fun – intelligent, articulate, highly skilled and passionate about her area of expertise. We learned a bit about sericulture, the different kinds of silk and how/why they’re produced. Then we started spinning, first with Bombyx Mori, then Tussah, Bleached Tussah – and all were different. And really challenging. Silk is radically different than wool to spin. The staples are long and slick and tough to draw. Fanning the draw is essential, otherwise it’s like trying to pull apart cotton thread.
The next challenge was spinning noil – forget it, and some yellow fluff that wasn’t quite so bad but again, forget it. Then we moved to caps and hankies – much easier! I really enjoyed tearing those apart and spinning them. With a bit more practice, I think I’ll have some good success with them. Getting an even thread from them is pretty hard, but I quite liked the slubby result.
Naturally I spent up large from the goodies Priscilla brought along: her two books, which I’m reading any spare moment as they’re very engaging, and what you see in the pic above. From the caps we started spinning at the workshop, I’ve continued with the hankies I bought. It’s a case of a little at a time as it’s quite hard work (especially on your fingers and hands) tearing them apart.
But most of all, like thousands before me, I’m just fascinated by the beautiful fibre spun by the humble little silkworm!