Silk how do I begin to sing your praises?
This installment will focus on bombyx and tussah silk varieties. There are many varieties of silk, but the most common fibers available for the handspinner are these two.
Bombyx silk is alsc called mulberry silk and is produced by the Bombyx mori moth. Michael Cook has a wonderful website that documents his raising and use of silk from varies species of moths including Bombyx mori. It can be found at Wormspit.
There are various preparations available to handspinners. Silk bricks and roving are created from combed silk fibers. Silk hankies and caps are made from cocoons that are degummed, slit open and stretched over a form or frame. Silk noil is the leftovers from the reeling process and often contains bits and pieces of junk in it. The quality varies from easily spinnable to good for blending with other fibers to not good at all. The better quality can sometimes be found in the form of silk noil roving.
Tussah silk is most often found as roving. The golden color it has is because these silkworms, Antheraea pernyi, eat oak leaves which has a higher amount of tannins in it. It can usually be found with a longer staple length and it is not as slippery as bombyx. I know many spinners sing the praises of tussah and one in particular (ahem) who considers her dangerously close to being out of tussah roving when her stash gets down to two pounds!
If you are a dyer and are wanting pastel colors, your best bet will be bombyx, but if you are wanting deep, saturated colors tussah is really the way to go. For experimenting with dyes silk caps and hankies can’t be beat and you don’t even have to spin them, you can stretch them into a thin roving and and knit, weave or crochet with it in that form.
Silk, ah what a wonderful fiber. I think its time to find that painted tussah roving and spend some quality time with my wheel.