Knitting with silk hankies

I saw the Yarn Harlot’s silk mittens knitted with an unspun silk hankie, and I wanted to try making a small silk scarf. I’ve made the Koigu neck cozy before and liked the pattern, it’s a small tuck-in scarf with minimal patterning and easy to modify.

I’d spun up one hankie from Crown Mountain Farms using the technique from an article in Knitty and liked the result. This time I got four undyed hankies from Woodland Woolworks, they’re much cheaper than the dyed ones ($6.40 each) and I feel better about experimenting with them.

Knitting with mawata.

I’d forgotten how silk likes to attach itself to everything with even the slightest texture, and how it floats. Pulling off a single layer and drafting it out was simple, taking that and knitting with it was like working with the splittiest, stickiest, most "rustic" thick and thin yarn you can imagine. And it worked. It just worked. I did the joins by laying the two ends on each other with a 4 to 6 inch overlap and easing some of the strands together which seems to be working so far. I’m using a US7 needle and aiming for a sport weight strand.

The fabric is floppy and doesn’t have the internal structure of wool, but it feels soft and warm. It’s shiny too. Four layers got me the first tab mostly done, I’ve not made a dent in the first hankie yet and I’m planning a longer, wider scarf with the rest, maybe something with cables or texture. Or a silk hat. Before knitting on Sunday I used an olive oil and sugar scrub on my hands to get rid of rough places the silk would stick to, it helped a little and made my hands feel a lot smoother.

I cannot wait to work on this in front of non-knitters.

There’s a dyeing article in knitty with a section on silk hankies which will be useful once I’ve done the knitting part. I ordered a 3g sample of henna hair dye from Mehandi.com (which has yet to arrive a week later), and I plan to get some hibiscus tea bags for a pink overdye. Some articles suggest dyeing with regular tea is a bad idea because the acids and tannin can degrade the fibre, but hibiscus may be less acidic.

3 thoughts on “Knitting with silk hankies”

  1. I’d never heard of it either until I saw it on the Harlot’s blog.
    I have one wee little silk hankie that I bought several years ago because I loved the colors of it. It’s too beautiful to do anything with, though…
    I’ll be interested to see how your project works out.

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