Silk is a true luxury fiber known for its fabulous luster, drape and intense colors when dyed.
A Bit of History
The cultivation of silk began in China before 1500 B.C.E. The legend, myth or story of its discovery starts with a Chinese “princess” (or Emperor’s wife) who was sipping tea in the garden. A cocoon dropped into her cup. Strands loosened from the cocoon suggesting the strands could be unwound from the cocoon and joined together to make thread. Silk production became a protected secret and silk fabric a much desired commodity. The Silk Road became the primary trade route all because of silk. This brought much wealth to China.
|Bombyx Mori Moth|
Where Silk Comes From
Silk begins as a tiny moth egg that hatches into a tiny caterpillar. The caterpillar consumes mulberry leaves almost nonstop for 3-5 weeks, growing to 10,000 times its original weight. When the caterpillar decides the time is right it begins to spin a cocoon where it will transform into a moth and begin the cycle all over again.
|Silk and wool blend yarn|
Knitting with silk
Silk has body and yet is beautifully supple. It has minimal elasticity so it is often blended with wool to add memory to the yarn. Silk in a cotton or wool blend adds drape. Silk is warm to wear in cold weather and cool to wear in summer.
- Pure silk yarn can be a bit slippery to knit through not as slippery as soy silk or bamboo yarns
- Any knit structure will work in although stockinette will show off its luster and lace its drape.
- Some silk yarns can be dense so cables should be knit sparingly in a silk yarn
- Play with needle sizes – go up a size to increase the drape and down a size if you need more body in a garment.