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Experimenting with Sari Silk Waste

I recently purchased some sari silk waste on Ebay. I don't like the bulky commercial yarns spun from these threads because I find them far too heavy, so I decided to experiment with using the threads to make some finer and more usable yarns.

I wanted to create textured yarns of 8 ply thickness (dk weight) or finer, that could be used to knit clothing and accessories such as scarves or hats.

The following are two techniques that I tried.

100% Sari Silk Waste Yarn

For my first experiment I used the waste threads only to spin a singles yarn.

Firstly I removed any knots, pieces of fabric and other debris that I didn't want in my finished yarns.

Whenever I found knots like those in the photo on the left, I cut the knot off and used the threads.

Then I tossed together all the colours I wanted to use. I didn't cut the fibres at all, I just tossed them together as they were after I had removed the unwanted materials.

Firstly I tried spinning from pre drafted threads, which worked well, although you do need to make sure that your pre drafted preparation doesn't become tangled.

I also tried spinning from the mass of threads and drafting as I went, which also worked well, although I sometimes had to draft with a fair amount of force in order to snap threads so that my yarn was fairly even in thickness.

As you can see from the photo on the left, you don't need much twist in order for the yarn to be securely spun.


Click the image for a larger view

My finished yarns!

From top to bottom they are:

Green silk waste plied with dark green cotton quilting thread, onto which I had thread little plastic stars. Approximately 6 ply thickness (sport weight).

2 ply purple/blue silk waste. Approximately 8 ply thickness (DK weight). I spun the singles for this yarn with more twist than the green yarns.

The final yarn is the same as the top yarn, but without the little stars.

These yarns are very light and soft, and have excellent drape but absolutely no elasticity. I think the blue/purple 2 ply yarn would be excellent for something like a t-shirt with a front buttoned opening, or a lacy shawl knit on large needles.

Blending with Sari Silk Waste

For my second experiment I decided to try and create a yarn with some elasticity. Wool was the obvious choice of fibre to blend with because woollen yarns have excellent memory.

As with the first yarn, the first step was to remove any bits and pieces of fabric and knots.

Then I took the colours one at a time...

and cut the threads into lengths roughly equal to the staple length of my wool (approximately 7.5cm or 3 inches).

When I had finished cutting all the threads to length, I tossed the colours together.

Then came the carding.

I decided to blend 50gms of silk threads with 150gm of 22 micron merino which I had dyed with Landscapes colour "Bloodwood". A disgusting name for a very attractive colour!

Firstly I carded the wool into batts.

Then I took 1/4 of a batt and made a "silk sandwich" with a layer of wool, then a layer of threads, and finally another layer of wool on top.

Lastly, I thinned the "batt sandwich" out so that it was thin enough to card. I carded it several times, until the threads were thoroughly mixed in with the wool instead of being in layers.

Initially I had been concerned about putting these threads through my drum carder because I didn't want to damage the teeth but I needn't have worried. Because I had removed any tight knots and had cut the threads to the same length as my wool, nothing tangled, snapped, bent or snarled.

I then pre drafted the batts into rovings


Click the image for a larger view

and spun a fairly fine yarn. My finished 2 ply yarn is approximately 4 ply thickness (fingering weight).

I wouldn't spin this preparation into a bulky single as the silk threads would work their way loose, however anything up to a 2 ply yarn of 8 ply thickness (dk weight), should be fine.

Click the image for a larger view

The finished yarn.


Copyright Sarah Bradberry August 2005. All rights reserved. You may not edit, email, publish, or distribute the contents of this page in any form without the prior permission of the copyright holder. If you would like to share the information on this page you may do so by giving the link to this page which is http://knitting-and.com/spinning/sari-silk.htm