Here are the silk hankies we dyed:
To fix the dye, we put the trays of dyed silk hankies in the oven for about 40 minutes at 175 degrees. I checked them after 20 minutes to see if the dye had exhausted, but there was still dye in the water, so we continued for another 20 minutes. At that point, the water surrounding the hankies was clear.
The nice thing about silk is it doesn't felt, so we were able to wash them right away using warm water and a little Dawn detergent. Then we hung them out to dry.
A few days later, I was ready to spin the dyed hankies. Like I said, I'm working with stacks of 9 to 10 grams each. You can see that what I'm holding in the picture below is really a bunch of hankies together.
The first step is to pull off one thin layer. Each layer was one cocoon. Here I am peeling the single layer back from the edge. The edges are thicker than the center, so it's fairly easy to find one layer.
Now you could peel them all apart at once, but I decided to just peel one off as I was ready for it. Here I am peeling it off the rest of the way:
After the layer has been peeled off, it's time to get it ready to spin. To do that, you hold onto the center of the hankie like this:
Then you poke a hole in the middle and start pulling gently. Actually, it doesn't have to be all that gentle.
The goal is to predraft it like you do with wool. The difference is that the length of each fiber is really long. Here I am pulling it gently until it's almost as far as my arms will go.
Now, if you look back up at the top of this post, you can see three different stacks of hankies. I used the same basic colors for the two light ones, and my daughter dyed the other stack the deep rich greens and blues. I'm only using the first two. In order to make sure the yarn comes out looking fairly even, I decided to alternate between the two stacks as I was spinning. I came to the conclusion that it didn't really matter much, but I kept doing it anyway.
Here I am starting to spin.
Look at the rainbow of colors here:
As you can see, I'm using a long draw to spin these, and I'm able to draw back much farther than I usually can with wool. In fact, I usually prefer some variation of a short draw with wool, but I found the long draw worked the best with the silk.
I'm using my right hand to draw along the fiber as I spin to make the yarn very smooth. I'm spinning it with lots of twist because silk doesn't have the scales that wool has to hold it together with less twist.
And as you can see, I'm spinning the yarn very fine. There is quite a bit of variation in the diameter of the yarn, but it's all in the laceweight range.
As I write this, I still have about half the hankies to spin, but here's what's on the bobbin so far. Here it is inside the house...
UPDATE: In case you're interested, the yardage from two stacks came out to over 400 yards of very fine laceweight that had about 36 wraps per inch. The final yarn weighed 0.6 ounces for all that yardage! We're in the midst of remodeling our kitchen, and I'm trying to figure out if I could use this to decorate pendant lights. If anyone has done this or can point me in the right direction, I would be very grateful.
Happy fiber artistry!