If you enjoy the look and feel of handspun yarn, but haven't learned to spin, knitting with mawata (silk hankies) is the perfect option. Silk hankies are a lightly processed form of silk - each layer of 'hankie' is a single silkworm cocoon which has been stretched out over a frame. Since each coccoon is made up of one continuous strand of silk, these hankies can be stretched out into strands and still retain enough strength to be knit with.
In order to knit with the silk mawata, take a single layer from your hankie stack - a single layer is very thin, and you should be able to see through it. Stick your finger through the middle of the sheet, creating a hole, then stretch it out with your hands. You can spread your arms apart to break it up initially, and then go over it inch by inch to make it thinner and more even.
For a step-by-step photo tutorial, check out this Knitty article.
If you hear ripping sounds as you attenuate your hankies, don't worry! - Remember, you're stretching out one single, very long strand of silkworm fiber. You have to rip the strand in some places in order for those fibers to slip past one another and create a thinner yarn. You will still be able to knit with it.
You can buy silk hankies from online markets such at Etsy, or places which sell fiber for spinning or felting. To get you started with knitting with mawata, here is a small, delicate project - a pair of these pulsewarmers will take less than 10g of hankies. Use them undyed for a classic, delicate look, or experiment with dyed hankies for a funky pair of colorful wristwarmers.
Materials: 5 to 10 cocoons per glove, attenuated to more
or less fingering weight -- approximately 22 yards for one glove. You can make your 'yarn' all in one go, or just pull off what you need as you work. Remember, while you are stretching out your hankies, that the finished product will appear thinner, as the fibers compress while you knit.
Needles: US3 (3.25mm) DPNS
Notions: A yarn needle for grafting and weaving in ends
CO 48 sts. Join in the round, careful not to twist.
Knit 1 round. Be careful for these first few rounds that your needles don't slip out of your stitches!
Purl 1 round.
Knit 1 round.
Purl 1 round.
Next round: knit 15, work row 1 of lace panel, knit 15.
Work two repeats of the lace panel, with 15 garter stitches on either side.
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On the second repeat, after the last stitch of the last row of the lace panel chart, work the last needle as follows:
P8, bo16, begin working flat. Work the hand chart, starting on the second stitch of row 1 (the first stitch has already been worked).
(click for larger)
Next row: k3, bo9, k1. 2 garter stitches on either side remain on the needles.
Knit the two stitches on the edge of the needles for 9 rows, then graft them to the other two stitches, forming a loop.
Block your glove by soaking it in lukewarm water, then laying it out flat so that the lace pattern is stretched out fully (pin if necessary).
Wear two gloves to keep your hands from being chilly while reading or typing, or wear one MJ-style. Either way, enjoy a little bit of luxury on your wrists. Silk is surprisingly warm.
If you enjoyed this free pattern, please check out my other patterns as well! :)