I got a chance the past couple of weekends to do some SERIOUS silk-reeling. Whipping through cocoons by the dozens and eventually hundreds, and making skeins that I can actually visualize making an entire project with, rather than using for tiny detail embellishment!
My meter says that there are a thousand feet on the itomaki bobbin at this point. The filament is reeled from approximately 15 cocoons – it’s about the size of a fine human hair. The reel is a custom design from Bill Wyatt of Wyatt Wheels – it takes a special bobbin that he designed, but it will also fit these antique Japanese itomaki bobbins.
This is all the silk from a single sitting. Probably between six and eight thousand feet; I didn’t count this one, but it compares about the same with one that had 6,800 feet – a little over a mile and a quarter. About fifty cocoons, total.
These are the two skeins I worked up. On the left is a skein of 8-strand Soie Platte, or flat silk – it’s doubled up for thickness, but not twisted at all. It is amazingly shiny and very, very soft – it’s perfect for applications where maximum sheen is desired, but heavy wear isn’t expected. Good for embroidery and brocading. The skein on the right is 2×4 Organzine – four reel filaments twisted together to make a “tram,” which is then thrown back with another strand to make the organzine. Sturdy enough for weft, warp, or other fabric uses.
Closeup, showing the two skein ends. You can really see the twist in this picture. Skein on the left is .4 oz; skein on the right is .5 oz. I haven’t measured them, but I’m guessing close to a thousand yards per skein.
This is the thing that I’m most excited about – they’re actually big enough to do something with! My previous reeled skeins were so tiny, I couldn’t really make a whole project with them.