Fibre Texture Tutorials: Silk Hankies

In some of your emails I’ve received questions about silk hankies: what they are, how to use them. Remember a while ago I did this Silk Overview post which was the first chapter for some tutorials on Fibre Texture (links on the right hand menu). Well, then I wrote:

‘Mawata Silk Hankies and Silk Caps: Mawata comes from Japanese and it means “to spread out”. It is basically a cocoon which has been stretched on a frame. The cocoon used for this are the defective ones, with holes or misshaped. More than one cocoon is placed on the same frame, so one silk hankie will have a couple of layers.’

Using this silk pieces is very easy and it can help you add a lot of texture and interest to a piece. They are generally called “Silk Hankies” although what you actually have is one hankies made up of several layers. Although it depends on each supplier, normally you would be able to get 5 to 6 layers per hankie which you can use separately. As a matter of fact I always use them separately or not more than 2 layers at a time. Imagine that if you have silk which you want to “attach” to wool by felting them, too many layers will make it more difficult- not impossible- for the wool to go through.

Silk Hankies can be found at Sara’s Texture Crafts at

-So, first things first: put lotion or Vaseline, something like that in your hands. Something thick. Silk will cling to every finger, nail… anything along the way. It doesn’t hurt obviously, but it makes it more difficult to handle. Lotion helps smooth your hands.

-If you want to have a square piece, then you will have be more careful when pulling the layers apart so they don’t get deformed. But essentially this is it: grab a corner and start pealing them apart:

If at the end it broke or didn’t keep it’s shape, it doesn’t matter. This silk hankies are very versatile and you can spread them with your hands, shape them, make holes in them… dye them, use them to make paper…you can even spin them into yarn!

I will show you something simple first, so you can see the texture it has in the end: I placed some wool (merino fleece in this case, natural black…about 28mic), wetted it down with warm to cold water… warm from the tap really. Not hot!

I then placed the hankie, 2 hankies (properly speaking, 2 layers of one hankie). I’m using rather thick wool and If I use only one hankie/layer I get the feeling it will really get lost in the wool. So two to reinforce a bit.

And then just felt like you normally do. Soap, water… slow, soft massage at first so you don’t move the silk with your hands as you rub. You will start very soon to see the hairs of the wool coming through the silk.

-When the silk is well attached and the wool felted… get rough. To get that subtle, elegant shine on silk, you have to mistreat it a bit… so throw it against the table a couple of time. You will notice too that the more you throw it, the more texture you will get… the more bumps if you want which in the game of light and shades and the lustre of silk, it also help add interest to your piece…

Written by Florcita at

Supplies by Sara’s Texture Crafts at

2 thoughts on “Fibre Texture Tutorials: Silk Hankies

  1. Therse hankies (and also mawatta silk caps) are great for spinners, knitters and crocheters too.

    Just make a hole in the centre of the hankie and put both opened up hands inside the hole and gently pull outwards….increasing the hole size. Then take it in your hands and grip lengths so you can pull sections around the circle…keep pulling and pulling the sections (drafting) into even slimmer lengths of “yarn” and when it’s too big, break it so you have one length of yarn.

    Continue to pull as above until you have a yarn thickness you like, you can knit or crochet with it like this or you can draft more azs before and spin it or ply it with another yarn for a funky unique designer yarn all your own!
    You can eaily dye them or purchase them ready dyed in single solid or space dyed effects!

    Have fun
    Spinningmad Dee xxx

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