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Friday, February 11, 2005

Lookie here...

Do you know what these are? They are silkworm cocoons and I got them in the mail yesterday. If you shake them, you can hear the dead worms inside (all together now...,"EWWWWW!") Some of the fibers on the cocoons have actually rubbed loose and yes, it really is silk! I'm so excited about these. The silk is being held together with saracin right now so I have to degum them in order to be able to spin the silk. From what I can understand, that involves simmering them in soapy water. Then, I should be able to unwind them and spin them. Each cocoon can have as many as 1000 - 1500 yards of silk in it. So, I figure if I spin the fibers together from each of the seven cocoons I have, I will have about 1000 yards of a yarn that is a slightly heavier weight than a spider web. Pretty cool, huh? If you're interested in the history of silk, which involves a Chinese empress and a cup of tea, check this out. Treenway Silks also has cocoons for sale for those of you who want to try spinning silk this way, but they have silk in other, more processed, ready to spin forms too. I also found a source for cocoons where the caterpillar/moth has left the cocoon, which will make for a shorter staple length, and less shine, but hey, no one was harmed in the production of this silk. In other news, I've started teaching Caleb to knit. I figure anyone who knows the phonetic sounds of all 26 letters of the alphabet, and can play a PlayStation, has the brains and finger coordination to knit. I cast on 20 stitches for him (I got him some 10" bamboo needles - so cute) and first I put my hands over his and helped him make the stitches but today, I let him make them without my hands there. He makes 3 or 4 stitches each time, then announces he's done knitting. We have 8 more stitches to go before he's finished his first row. I've taught him the little rhyme: Under the fence, Grab the sheep, Back he comes, And off he leaps. Yes, he does say it every time he makes a stitch. For those of you out there wondering why I'm teaching him, there are several reasons. Number one right now is that knitting is a sit still activity that uses your brain and your hands. Sitting still is hard for him, so this will help. It will also teach him spatial thinking, math, eye/hand coordination, and give him concrete results for his efforts. From what I understand, knitting is part of the educational curriculum for several countries in the world, for both boys and girls. OK, off the soapbox now. I hope everyone has a great weekend. Hopefully on Monday, I'll have some sockyarn dyed to show you, I'll definitely show you the Secret Project, and who knows what else will be going on.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's the pretty little bowl I gave you 2 years ago! What a great background!!
Where did you learn the rhyme? I think it is perfect for Caleb!
Caleb's Grandmother

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that is so COOL that anyone who wants to spin silk can. I've never thought of that as something anyone can spin. I like the idea of allowing the silkworm to continue its lifecycle and still be able to use the cocoon for your own purpose. I'd love to know how difficult you found it to process the cocoons. I also like the links you've made, which were very informative. Can't wait to see your next project.

12:01 PM  

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