Sunday, 17 April 2011

Silk Spinning with Sue Hiley Harris

We had an amazing day yesterday with Sue Hiley Harris, weaver-sculptor extraordinaire and an excellent teacher. ( )Patiently and clearly she explained the entire process of silk yarn manufacture from silkworm to the finished product.  Now we all understand the differences between reeled, thrown and spun silk, and know why tussah silk is coloured (it's the oak leaves the caterpillars feed on, rather than the white mulberry leaves eaten by Bombyx caterpillars) and understand why noil silk is full of bits (the last shed skin of the caterpillar).
Sue showed us how to spin silk fibre in all its' variety - and she even examined our spinning wheels, and advised on how to optimise their performance for fine spinning.  Although there were no real beginners in the group, I think we all valued the chance to get back to basics and revisit the mechanics of "double drive", "Scotch tension", bobbin or flyer brakes.
And then spinning the silk itself!  Sue taught us how to produce a smooth yarn, analagous to the worsted woolen yarn, slub yarns, and the wonderful noil yarn spun by the long draw technique.  She also taught us how to use carders properly, and produce beautiful silk rolags.  A world of spinning in one day.
Our very grateful thanks to Sue for a wonderful day - we learnt such a lot and are determined to practise until we get it right and can produce perfectly spun silk yarn.

Bombyx mori cocoons

Poised for the long draw.....
Beautiful rolags!

Even the rubbishy bits look great!
We were also very pleased to welcome members of the Cheshire and North Cheshire Guilds, and hope to see them again in the future.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sue and company,

    I bought a silk scarf when I was last your way (over ten years ago). I love it. I hope to make it back to your shop. I so enjoyed spinning the wheel and seeing the way you make your products. Thank you for making such lovely products