The last few days, abbreviated.

1. My class found a way to block swatches in a manner becoming a retreat.

2. Knitting with very fine silk requires concentration.

3.  Much of the serving staff was converted. (That’s Allison. Lisa had her up in knitting in minutes, and as of yesterday she could knit, purl, work garter, stockinette, ribbing, k2tog, yarn over and explain the difference while reading her work. Some people are taught the fibre arts.  Others are called to them.)

4. Everyone learned how to make silk hankies (mawata) right from the cocoons. It was very gross, but fun. (Tina took the bugs out of the middles for the woosie-pants.)

5. We reeled silk.  (You will note that I have rigged a high-tech approach.  Books, wire hangars and duct tape.  Worked great.)

6. Can you see how many cocoons are reeling off at once? It still made a very, very fine thread.

7.  Now I’m spinning. Hopelessly behind on the Tour de Fleece, especially considering that I’ve got a long day of travel tomorrow- and unlike my buddy Denny, I haven’t yet figured a way to spin on a plane.

83 thoughts on “Abbreviation

  1. Wow! Makes me want to have “my own flock of silkworms in Japan”, to quote Rodgers and Hammerstein in Cinderella!

  2. Count me in the woosie-pants category. I’m not a fan of bugs or their larvae.

  3. With Denny’s help perhaps you could use a spindle. If you get an aisle seat, it’s perfectly easy to do as long as you keep an eye for traffic.
    I got lots done that way, and no passengers were harmed.

  4. drop spindles are no more dangerous than a knitting needle, especially wrapped in a bundle of wool.
    anything to help with your tour totals

  5. Looks great fun. I am impressed with Allison’s progress – woot. I wondered how you would go with the silk larvae conundrum, looks like you did well, and the multiple cocoon delayering looks a lot faster than the ‘by hand’ method I have seen previously. Isn’t it great to have fun and be creative (and that means everybody).
    Like the water receptacle for wetting swatches, very ‘necessity inspired’.

  6. Thanks for the update…I was afraid you’d fallen into a vat of cocoons and spun yourself into one!

  7. But no creative use of the discarded bugs? No conga line of carcasses, no cake topped with shells, no knitting of teeny silk sweaters or scarves for them?
    Never mind. Next time.

  8. Meh, you can totally catch up on the spinning. Just go home, lock yourself in a room (the one with the most food/beer–kitchen I’d assume), and proclaim all services “closed” for the duration of the tour. I’m sure everyone will understand.

  9. Wow. That’s a seriously un-flattering picture of me and my block-tail, but hey – it worked great!
    Miss you and everyone else already. Thanks for a wonderful weekend!

  10. Is it just me or does mawata make you think of the evil laugh mawahhahahah?!

  11. Be careful about that spinning on board the plane. You already know how “anti-anything to do with yarn” those airlines can be. I can just hear the flight attendants now,”You could decapitate your fellow flyers in the event of severe turbulence!” (Or, at least, threaten their lady bits)

  12. Glad you’re back up and spinning!
    I have to disagree: making mawatas is so not gross, at least not after you’ve cleaned up all the frass. And rams is right – we totally should have had a conga line of carcasses. My bad.
    Happy trails!

  13. Not a woosie-pants, but as a vegetarian of the “I don’t want to kill things” ilk I’ve always felt a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to silk. Same with cochineal. Sigh.

  14. I just love what you are spinning. What is it? Where can I get it? & what wheel are you using?
    okay then…continue spinning.

  15. There’s a reason they call that stuff “Silk Thread”.
    Hold my beer… watch this… 🙂

  16. YEA SPINNING! YEA KNITTING! YEA WEAVING! (ah, used table loom should be coming home with me after Sept vaction in the Outer Banks) I have definitely been called!
    Now back to tonights TdF spinning…

  17. HOly crap . You had to remove the worm or whatever it is inside those cute little cocoons ?! Just lost my love for those cuties. Does silk hold up to gin or vodka or is that water in the glass. Guess water is best eh ? Happy travels .

  18. I see toothbrushes in that photo – how are they used? (dental hygienist here)

  19. woosie-pants here. I got kind of grossed out by the whole bugs stuff. Your spinning is gorgeous. If money grew on trees in my backyard, I would buy a spinning wheel right now and start that.

  20. That’s awesome to see the silk threads being pulled off the cocoon and ‘reeled’. Wish I could have seen that in person.

  21. My daughter was very grossed out to find that silk comes from cocoons of caterpillars. She doesn’t know how she feels about silk now.
    The retreat looked fascinating, thanks for sharing.

  22. I’m not exactly understanding the preparation of the cocoons. Were they cooked in the crock pot? This is very interesting!

  23. How bad did the silk smell? I know that some people say that they like the smell, but it makes we want to hurl. Just saying.

  24. How bad does wet silk smell? Well, my LYS owner says it smells exactly like what it is…. worm SH*T!!

  25. I went from reading a Newsweek article on how to foster creativity, and how creativity begets creativity, to reading this. Duct tape and coat hangars and those silkworms de Kooning: totally and completely awesome. (And that yarn on that bobbin is *gorgeous*.)

  26. You should have SAID! I have lots of recipes for the larvae that you cook in the cocoons! It is a delicacy for the Thai and they make a great-looking ‘yum’ (Thai word for sour salad) out of them that they demonstrated at the annual silk fair here in Bangkok (well, looked good until I realize what the main ingredient was).
    So, BTW, the worms do provide some much needed protein for the silk families. (Saw some of the girls doing the boiling and with the forked stick to keep the thread coming off sneaking some of the little larvae when no one was looking – just plain and boiled!)
    Oh – and they have a new silk here in Thailand called “cotton” silk that allows the larvae to hatch before they take the silk off the cocoon!

  27. According to the Ravelry rules, any fiber prep counts for the Tour de Fleece as well, so all that work counts, too. 🙂
    At least, that’s what I’m telling myself about the fleece I’ve got on the back deck waiting for the rain tonight (I’m calling it an experiment–we’ll see how clean the rain gets it before I scour it).

  28. Lovely yarn that you are spinning though!
    It all looks like fun – hope it was!

  29. Miss Harlot, you finally convinced me to go forth with spinning! I bought a wheel, and I’m in the process of learning how to use it!
    I think you’ll also be proud – I bought a Canadian wheel (one that isn’t made anymore!), and it’s beautiful! If you want to see pictures, please look at my blog. 😀

  30. um, please pardon my ignorance… but just where does one procure silk cocoons??? none of my LYS’s seem to carry them! 🙂

  31. Wow, were those cocoons in a crock pot? Hmmm, I’m not sure I’m ready to turn my crock pot over to insect cases. This may be a sign that you’ve gone round the bend just a tad, and I mean that in the nicest possible way! I guess nothing is too far for fiber?

  32. Well, I’ve managed to spin on a bus with my wheel, but I think I would have to use a drop spindle on the plane. Perhaps they would not regard the spindle with as much dismay as knitting needles?

  33. My goodness, I say Allison was certainly called to knit – she crossed paths with her fate. What great stuff to learn about the silk!

  34. All those fine threads of silk. Nice!
    And all hail Lisa for her converting. Whoo!

  35. So much fun! Looks amazing! Of course, I would have been the woosie-pants need the bugs removed (ick!), but the rest, makes me almost, almost I say, want to spin 🙂

  36. That’s so fascinating, the cocoons. It’s unbelievably cool how you teach the staff to knit.

  37. What fun! What a great workshop!
    What’s that book lying open in the second photo? Looks interesting, hmmm. Reeling is amazing.

  38. Love what you’re spinning! Pretty pretty pretty!
    As for the cocoons….. um. yuck. Still I love silk yarn. There’s nothing else quiet as decadent, IMHO. I guess I’ll let other people do the icky parts.

  39. I’m definitely in the wimpy bug hater group, although the reeling of silk from cocoons is intiguing. Wish I was there.

  40. I too am a woosie-pants. And I will never look at my slow-cooker the same again. Looks like great fun, however!

  41. I have two mulberry trees in my front yard…I think I need to look into sericulture! Altho I’m not sure mine are the “right” kind of mulberry for the little wormies, these trees deliver some fantastic fruit. And whatever that is on the lazy kate, I’d like double please!! It’s lovely, very colorful.

  42. I’ve come to the conclusion that what we do is just simply magical. Magical. Imagine starting out with those little cocoons and coming out with lacy, yummy goodness. It’s a magical place where we live.

  43. What a glorious time! I had to laugh at the cocoons because they reminded me of Italian gnocchi and made me hungry(not a good idea). I am in lust with your spun singles. The colours are mind blowing. Good luck with getting back on track with the Tour de Fleece goal. Cheers and red wine, Hazel.

  44. Never. Wearing. Silk. Again.
    This is akin to meeting your steak before you eat it. GROSS. BUGS. I knew all of this you see, but never saw it. How can something so awesome, be so, well, gross??

  45. Spinning on the plane? One word. Spindles. 🙂
    (also: silk fibre from bugs? nature is awesome.)

  46. a year in China taught me that those little brown things on a styrofoam tray in the supermarket – looked like elongated brazil nuts – were in fact silk worms in the ” raw ” and one fried them – quickly – for a crunchy snack. Never got up the courage although my husband said they really don’t have a taste – but tasted like cornmeal mush in a crisp shell. I didnt try fried scorpion either – A good Chinese mother serves a plate of friend scorpion to her child the night before important exams – brain food.

  47. I am sure that Denny will share plane spinning techniques if you ask nicely…and bribe her with something delectable!!!
    A friend and I were discussing silk cocoons…and she was just amazed that there were caterpillars in them. It was like, well duh!!!

  48. I have a friend who reels her own silk and stops when she gets to the point where she can see what’s inside the cocoons. Wastes some silk but she would rather not see them if she can avoid it.
    Cooking the cocoons in hot water softens the gum that “glues” the silk filaments together in the cocoon shape. BTW, the cocoons have already been baked when you buy them, so no live bugs are left.
    Eating cooked insects is really no weirder than eating cooked lobsters, when you look at it objectively, but cultural taboos (and those things can be powerful) do make it difficult for most of us to contemplate.
    Silk made from cocoons with “escaped” caterpillars has existed for quite a while, but it tends to be of lower quality because the filaments get broken. The reason reeled silk is so strong and so shiny is because of the long unbroken filaments (rather like nylon).
    And OK, gotta share this will fellow fanatics — a week of knitting cartoons, starting with this one:

  49. When I was in junior school I remember raising silkworms in a shoe box at home, feeding them on lettuce or mulberry leaves. We also got the silk worms to spin their own little silk hankies. You cut a simple shape out of a piece of card stock 4 or 5 inches across – heart shape, circle, oval, and tape it from the underside to the top of a pop bottle so that you have a little platform. Then when a silk worm has stopped eating and is ready to spin its cocoon, you put it onto this platform. It wanders about the platform for several days looking for a place to anchor its thread and covers the card with silk in the process. It doesn’t fall off (or maybe my mother remembers that differently…) and eventually it turns into a larva without a cocoon around it. Then you carefully peel the silk off the cardboard, and you have a thin piece of silk with a slightly thicker outline in the shape of your card. I made a pale yellow heart which I kept for years.

  50. Thank you! You may not have saved my life with your post, but you have definitely made a depressing morning much better by having a post today. I appreciate it!

  51. I really hope my comment and question don’t hurt or offend you, but it’s an honest one that I ask out of my own internal (and ongoing) struggles. I do hope you receive them in the spirit that I mean them, and wish you might offer me a rationale that puts said struggles to rest.
    Being a lifelong vegetarian (culturally, but more and more a self-aware choice as I became an adult), the idea of using silk / leather has made me uncomfortable for some years now. It feels like I can justify wearing a product of something that was alive even less than eating it, especially if, as in the case of silk, it’s less necessity and more luxury. My religion doesn’t see the use of silk as incompatible with the purported nonviolence of vegetarianism (leather is defined as unacceptable), which doesn’t make sense to me as the “cooking” of the cocoons seems really cruel. (Community elders get really mad if I say this….) How do you, personally, reconcile your choices? I love everything about all kinds of silk as a finished product, but am less and less able to get past how it is made…and would REALLY like to.

  52. Looking very trim! That running is working for you. Plus the stress of spinning all your weight before the Tour is over!

  53. How does Denny spin on a plane? oh for the love of all the gods, how? Those of us who are sometimes confined to a seated position for various reasons would love to know. I can park and draft but it doesn’t go very fast and would definately invade my seatmate’s space. Guest post, oh pretty please?

  54. I always wondered how you unraveled a cocoon. Very interesting. And now I’m dying to know how Denny spins on a plane.

  55. Argh– I really really wanna go now! I’ve been hankering for learning about matwahs and silk spinning!

  56. I see friends! It looks like a wonderful time! I’m glad you all got a chance to be together and be fibre-y. Hooray for converting Allison!

  57. FINALLY a use for my “sitting in the cupboard for MANY YEARS” crockpot!

  58. Spinning on a plane. Check out the Rakestraw spinner. Not even a little hook to take someone’s eye out with. I love mine.

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