Well, I have learned a LOT about Eri silk! I finally got a chance to play with the cocoons, and am fairly pleased with the results – although I’ve had a few “learning experience” type things that I don’t plan to repeat.
These are the cocoons. They are pointed at the ends, and the moth escapes through a very narrow, almost indistinguishable exit hole. I started with about 15 cocoons, figuring that would give me a reasonable sample, but not mess everything up if I did something wrong with them.
This is what they looked like degummed. I learned something important: take the bits of pupal shell out FIRST. Since the cocoons aren’t being reeled, it won’t make a big difference to cut them open along one side. The bits of bug matter are a real pain in the butt to comb out after the silk is degummed. They degummed very quickly; they were ready much faster than bombyx cocoons would have been. About 20 minutes of simmering.
After much combing, this is what it looks like. This is only about half the silk; I haven’t finished processing it all. It’s kind of like combed sliver; I used the edge of the carding combs and pulled the fiber out like combing locks of sheep’s wool, so the fibers are all aligned.
I knitted up a little swatch to check the yarn out. It’s got a very nice hand – kind of half-way between bombyx silk and cotton. It is known for being more washable, but less shiny, than bombyx.
This one’s better for scale – it’s a VERY little swatch. The needle is a #000.