Loot from Japan #1

Japan Yarn and Kimono
Here is silk thread I bought–and a lovely child’s under kimono. The really rough skeins in the bundle are raw silk made of the waste silk that is on the outside of the cocoons. I got it at a co-op where the framers took their cocoons to be unwound and made into skeins. The silk was reeled off of the cocoons by machines. It was fascinating to watch and the beautiful, shiny silk skeins being wound. I don’t know how the wide silk yarn was made, but I hope to find a way to weave something interesting with it.

I love the little kimono–we visited a woman who researched how the red dyes used to be made. Red for under the kimono was really a popular thing!

Silk Cocoons (white and colored)

Silk cocoons (click to enlarge)

Since I’ve been working with silk threads, people have asked about silk worms and silk cocoons. Here are some cocoons I brought from my studio. You can see one where the silkworm escaped leaving the cocoon so it can’t be unwound because it isn’t intact. The others are whole. The colored cocoons were dyed at a place I visited in Japan. We reeled the silk off of blue and yellow cocoons and the company knitted up the thread

Colored cocoons, green scarf

into the green scarf in the photo. In another post I’ll send pictures of mereeling green silk from blue and yellow cocoons. The gold  silk I previously unwound from a skein onto a Japanese spool is the natural color of the cocoon. A friend sent it to me from Cambodia. One fine strand of silk is made from unreeling many cocoons together at once. These fine threads are what I used in the pieces in the  gallery.

Silk spools are the thing!

Silk spool (click to enlarge)

I’ve been showing people the  spool of silk thread that I made from that skein which took a month to unwind. (See a previous post.) They love the full spool as it is–as a work of art. I’m beginning to love it, too. I’ve been worrying about what I can weave that will be as beautiful as the silk. Now my thinking is to weave something, but leave a lot on a spool because it’s beautiful that way. The silk came from Cambodia–the gold color is the color of the cocoons–the threads are c9omposed of 20 or more filaments (cocoons). The thread is slightly slubby and many were stuck together with the sericin from the silk worm.  This is what makes it so lovely, I think.

Good news! My silk skein is finished!

Skein almost finished (click to enloarge)

I finished the skein last week–that is, I stopped just short of finishing it. You can see that it’s almost completely unwound. I stopped unwinding so I could just cut the skein. Then I  have a hunk of this thread to use to lay in the sheds –similar to the silk pieces in my gallery.

Japanese winder

You can see the wound spool and I think it’s absolutely gorgeous. The “spool” is the style used in Japan for silk–a much larger circumference than “our” spools.

Molly and full spool