Knitting with Silk Hankies (Mawata Squares)

Over on the Wildcraft Woollies forum on Ravelry we are having a silk hankie along. Anything goes, as long as there are silk hankies involved.

My experience with hankies is limited to a little bit of dabbling, but not much real practical experience. For my first project I’m using 30g of Silk Mawata squares from Wildcraft and I thought I’d share how I’m doing it.

Silk squares

Aren’t they gorgeous? I’m in love with the colour.

For my first project I’ve planned to do a set of mittens using the unspun silk. It is a simple technique, with the hardest part being a trip to the manicurist. Silk, in most forms, likes to catch on anything, and this is especially true with the hankies.

The first step is to separate out the hankies. Looking along the edge of the silk, you’ll see the edges of the squares and the idea is to try and pull a square (or a couple squares) off the pile.


A square(s) pulled off:

There are several ways to attenuate the silk. I prefer poking a hole in the centre and pulling it out in a loop:

Here is my loop, only pulled enough to make it roughly even:

If I wanted aran weight yarn, I’d stop here. If I wanted something thinner, I’d keep drafting. Here it is all drafted out:

I then break my loop. I do this as the last step as it allows me to either pick a particular spot, like a colour change, or a thin area to break it.

One word of warning, the silk is deceptive. It’ll knit up to a much finer gauge than you may think. If I pull the silk taught, you’ll see the difference between how it will knit and how it looks at rest.

My final step before knitting is to roll the silk on to a toilet roll liner. This step is optional. You could make little nests out of the silk instead, or you can draft as you knit. It is up to you. I wanted to knit with a continuous strand of yarn, so I wound it on to the rolls. At the join, I simply lay one end of silk over the other and twist is slightly to hold it together before wrapping the rest of the silk on.


I decided to use a wool-based yarn for my cuffs for two reasons. One, I was worried about running out of silk, and two, I wanted a cuff with some elasticity. I’m using a camel and merino blend from Onion Knit. This stuff is a gloriously soft single and perfect for that sensitive bit of skin on the inside of the wrists.


I also decided to use two ‘strands’ of the unspun silk. I ended up drafting out my first bit of silk too much, but I’m really glad that I did. I’ve found that I’m getting a much more consistent gauge with two strands, much like what happens when you ply yarn when spinning.


I’m really loving how the mittens are working up and how the colours are coming through even though I’m not giving much thought or effort to keep them from muddying together.


And those are the basics. I’ve started knitting my second mitten already and will be back to show the final results as soon as they are finished.


Fabulous tutorial! I love every single photo. That’s a really handy tip about doubling up the yarn too, I’ll try that next time.

Goldfishgirl · 13 January 2012, 18:18 · #