Technique of the Week: How to Use Silk Hankies

This week’s technique of the week is all about silk hankies! Also known as mawata, each silk hankie is made
of silk from cocoons that are stretched and dried over a square loom that can
then be pulled apart, drafted and worked into yarn.
Best part of all is that you don’t need any special tools and you don’t even need to know how to spin in order to enjoy these lovely silk hankies. Simply peel off a light-as-air layer of silk and slowly pull it apart by beginning in the center, and you’ll be ready to knit or crochet with it.

These stunning Silk Hankies from Hanks in the Hood are available in so many beautiful colors, choosing your favorite just might be the hardest part! Another advantage for those unfamiliar to spinning techniques is that silk has very long fibers, which makes it easy to draft without accidentally pulling it completely apart. Although the process of turning your silk hankies into yarn is rather simple, it can be a bit intimidating at first and feel somewhat like you are venturing into unknown waters. And if you are anything like me, a little visual reference can go a long way when I am learning new techniques. Which is why we put together a video tutorial all about how to work with silk hankies. You’ll learn all about seperating and drafting each layer by layer, how to start working with your drafted fiber, along with other tips and trick for working with these beauties!

If you have made the leap and indulged in the Hanks in the Hood Silk Hankies or maybe you are still on the fence, there are a few tips that will make the process a lot smoother (and yes, read on – pun intended)! First, the silk fibers have a tendency to catch on any roughness on your hands, so it is important to keep your hands well moisturized. The Knit Picks Butter Hand Cream and the BeBe Bee Baby Cream are two great solutions to this common problem. A simple exfoliating scrub of olive oil and sugar works well in a pinch, too!

If you are just starting out, you might want to sacrifice a few silky layers in order to make a small swatch. Not only will this allow you to work through a layer or two as a practice run, but it will let you adjust how thick or thin you are drafting the fiber in order to get the correct weight that you are aiming for. After a few tries, I settled on drafting my silk into a DK weight yarn which I was able to swatch to my liking on size 6 needles.

And now, you might also be thinking – what to make with this amazing yarn that you’ve created? Silk is a surprisingly warm fiber, which explains the popularity of mawata mittens. And if you remember last week’s technique of the week on Kelley’s Mitten Class, you already know about my love of mittens. However, I am also tempted by the idea of a scrumptious cowl to keep me warm and cozy.

Have you tried out the new Hanks in the Hood Silk Hankies yet? If so, what kinds of projects do you like to make with mawatas?