How are Silk Hankies made?

Who can resist the look and feel of silk? Silk is one of the strongest, most lustrous natural fibers. The natural beauty of undyed silk is stunning, but dyed silk is exquisite. An absolute must-have in every textile artist’s stash!

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Silk hankies, how are they made?  

The factory that produces Ashland Bay’s silk hankies is in the Jiangsu province of China. The factory, a family business, has been passed down from father to son. Their main production focus is silk yarn for Japanese kimonos. They have continued the tradition of producing the silk hankies and caps mainly to provide employment and support the local economy. They produce approximately 500 kg of silk caps and 450 kg of silk hankies per month. A relatively small percent of these caps and hankies make their way into the spinning/felting/paper making market, the majority of the hankies are used for batting for quilts and kimonos.

The process starts with the sorting of the cocoons.

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The hankies, also referred to as silk squares or mawatas, are then degummed and stretched onto a square frame.

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Each cocoon is one layer in the bundle of silk hankies. The cocoon is opened up, the pupa removed (which I believe is what is on her lap) and stretched onto the frame.

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Silk bells or silk caps are also made using the same process only instead of being stretched on a square frame they are stretched over a cap shaped form.

If you are interested in more information on the process of making silk hankies and caps check out this website, http://www.wormspit.com/mawatas.htm. It has a lot of great information!

Now, what can you do with silk hankies? Check back for our next post about felting with silk hankies!