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I have been learning a lot about spinning fiber! There’s a whole lot of different fibers out there, and you can get them in various levels of pre-preparation. Most you can get approximately raw, like you can buy unwashed wool, or cotton bolls, etc. You can get anything from that to a “top”, which is fiber that’s been combed or carded and processed so all the fibers go in the same direction and pulled into a kind of tube, so it’s very easy to work with. Mostly fiber is undyed but you can get lots of dyed fiber.
So I needed a small amount of stuff to make up the discount level in my spinning order, (from the Woolery) and they sell “silk caps”. These are single cocoons that have been cleaned (degummed) and, in this case, dyed interesting colors. They haven’t been otherwise pulled apart, though, to make a top or anything. I didn’t know what to expect. It turns out that they’re well-named! They’re about the size and shape of a shower cap, thinner in the middle, thicker on the edges where the cocoon was cut. They’re many thin layers of silk, one on top of another.
Aside from the source probably not being fancy awesome worms (which apparently make golden silk, I guess, that was reserved for royalty in India and I am not good at spinning silk so I haven’t ordered any of *that* yet), these particular cocoons were probably cut, so that the caps involve lots of individual strands of fiber. I guess if you buy a good cocoon complete with dead bug, or if it’s been extracted from the end of the cocoon, then it will be all a single strand. The silk industry is interesting.
I am not up for dealing with dead bugs, myself. Ew.
Also, since I am at the “experiment with everything!!!” phase of this hobby, I ordered the cotton sampler, which came with a neat tiny supported spindle. It includes an actual cotton boll, like it comes off the plant. It also has some fluff that has some bits of plant matter in it. I see why the cotton gin made such a difference, because wow.
Later samplers will include silk samplers, and so I expect to get cocoons that are possibly intact. I’m hoping they will be de-bugged. Some look dyed, and I really had no idea you could dye silk in a cocoon (it looks like easter eggs) so I’m pretty interested about that. If it’s bugged I’ll have to have my best friend help me out.
In the meantime, I have given up the bamboo rayon for the shawl and turned to a mix of merino and silk. It spins up like a dream and I like the feel of it!