Happy New Year to you all and welcome back to the Monster Yarns blog. I hope you’ve all had a relaxing few weeks whilst I’ve been “off air” and that you are, like me, recharged and ready for lots more knitting and crocheting in 2014.
I was able to finish most of my Christmas projects and those that are still on the needle, will be done before the end of January. So all in all, a successful Christmas period at home. I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions as a rule, but this year, I would like to knit with more noble yarns and perhaps be a little less sensible on my pattern choices too. Experimentation is the key!
I took some inspiration from a pattern I found on a sari.
And I’ve recreated it to be a cable and lace pattern, using 100% silk to make a long scarf.
The pattern is interesting enough to keep me engaged, and the yarn is just the right mix of sheen, weight and drape.
I can hear some of you muttering about whether a silk scarf is sensible. After all, we’re accustomed to buying silk clothing labelled “Dry Clean Only”. Not really ideal for a scarf. The best kept secret of dry cleaners however is that you can most certainly wash silk. After all, it has been in use for over five thousand years and the modern-day dry-cleaning process didn’t begin until the mid-eighteenth century.
One reason silk manufacturers recommend dry cleaning is that silk can lose its characteristic sheen with incorrect washing. Silk fibres are sensitive to abrasion, which can occur when the silk rubs against itself or other, rougher fabrics or against a metal washing machine drum. An abraded silk fibre will appear whitish or as though sprinkled with powdered sugar because the outer layer of the silk, which provides the light reflectivity, has been roughed up.
When you wash silk, use a lot of lukewarm water in proportion to the silk. If the silk is floating freely in the water, it will be less likely to rub against itself or other surfaces, minimizing damage due to abrasion. Washing can also affect the drape of silk. How many of us have washed a luxurious silk blouse or scarf only to be horrified by the stiff fabric that emerged from the wash? Well, fear not. Your silk fabric is not ruined.
Step 1: When the silk is slightly damp, move the piece around in your hands for a few minutes. This will bring up the sheen and minimize the stiffness when the silk is completely dry.
Step 2: Take your dry silk item and whack it against the back of a chair a couple of times. I know. It sounds really weird. However it works.
Even on de-gummed silk, there is a bit of residual sericin (water-soluble proteins that glue the cocoon together), and these proteins stiffen when the wet silk dries. Whacking softens the sericin, restoring the lustre and softness of the silk. With use and washing, the residual sericin will come out of the silk over time and less finishing (whacking against the back of a chair) will be needed.
Hope this helps you!