Degumming Silk Throwsters Waste

Degumming Silk Throwsters Waste

A few years ago I was given some gorgeous multi-coloured Throwsters waste in a fibre swap. I’ve always used it sparingly, worried it’d run out and I’d have to begrudgingly pay a ridiculous amount of money for a tiny handful. Then a few months ago I was ordering wool and fibres from World of Wool and thought I’d take the plunge and order some gummed throwster’s waste since it cost less for 100g than most people charge for 10g dyed. I had no idea it’d be so stiff and dull! The complete opposite of what I was used to. I had absolutely no idea how to de-gum it either πŸ™‚

A couple of days later after a few hours searching the internet, I was confident I’d pieced together enough info to try de-gumming for myself. I thought I’d probably have to try it a few times before getting it right, but was pleasantly surprised to see it work first time with excellent results πŸ™‚

If you’d like to try it yourself, or are just interested in the process, I’ve made a tutorial with lots of photos and an easy to follow table for working out quantities.

Degumming Silk Throwsters Waste

I’ll be following up later this week with a tutorial for direct dyeing small amounts of animal fibres with acid dyes, which can be usedΒ  to dye your degummed throwster’s waste some gorgeous colours πŸ™‚

I have to say Thank You to foragingfibers whose pictures convinced me it was worth trying to degum my own throwster’s waste πŸ™‚

31 thoughts on “Degumming Silk Throwsters Waste

  1. Excellent tutorial Zed. I have not used throwsters waste, was not sure what it looked like so that was very helpful, I find it is hard sometimes if you have not used a particular fiber or seen it out of the packet to understand what can be done with it, also if it costs $ you hesitate to experiment. There are so many different terms for all the silk bits, I was confused as to what silk hankies were for some time, and thanks to another of your tutorials I am familiar with silk rods but there are still a lot terms and silk bits that I have yet to use.

    1. Thanks a lot Jane πŸ™‚
      Yeah, I know what you mean, and sometimes you still don’t really know what a fibre can do until you’ve tried it yourself.
      We’re trying to add as much info as possible on all the different fibres used in felting, or at least lots of photos of fibres before felting, and also examples of them being used added to the gallery sub pages.
      I think the silk page:
      and the silk gallery:
      have the most pictures so far.
      They added the picture carousel after we’d added most of the content, but if you click ‘permalink’ under any photo, it goes to a much bigger photo.

  2. Brilliant tutorial, zed! I have only used dyed throwster’s waste and have never even seen throwster’s waste that needed to be degummed so this was a fascinating read. Thanks for the great pictures and very clear directions. If I ever come across gummed throwster’s waste, I’ll be ready! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks, Beth πŸ™‚
      Dyed Throwster’s waste is so gorgeous but so expensive, if I’d known myself it was so cheap and easy to degum and dye my own, I’d have done it a long time ago!

  3. I have half a kilo of it so I am going to give this a try over the Christmas holidays. My friend who has the other half a kilo will be coming over so we can do it together and combine our dye for the next step.

    1. Thanks a lot πŸ™‚
      No, of course I don’t mind if you re-post πŸ™‚

  4. hi Zed,
    thank you for tutorial degumming. The odor of noil silk is very strength, i cannot resist it. Then i found your posting about degumming. I try this today for my 100 gram creamy noil silk. I mix 25 gr soda ash and 25 gr sodium lauril sulfat and do your instruction step by step. But after 1 hr simmering, there is no cloud in the pan as you write. The water is just getting yellow but the yarn is still creamy. Where did i do wrong? Need your help please. Thank you.

    1. Hi Hommy,
      I think there might be a bit of confusion. The silk waste I am using to degum is ‘silk throwster’s waste’ it is stringy and feels like dirty doll’s hair. It still has serecin on it.
      Silk Noil doesn’t, it is soft, smells very nice, can be separated and pulled apart easily and often has little bits in it that look like rolled oats. This is silk noil:
      Silk noil doesn’t need degumming. If you do have silk throwster’s waste, maybe it was already degummed. If it feels soft and looks shiny after rinsing and drying it is ok. Do you have any photos?

    2. hi Zed,

      it is not degumming yet, as i was informed by the seller. The smell is like cod oil. It feels like cotton.

      There is not much difference between before and after.

      Yes, i can send you the photo. But where i can find your email? so i can attach the photo. Thank you very much for replying.

    3. sorry, I couldn’t comment earlier. I emailed you my address πŸ™‚

  5. Hi, I am new to felting so bought a few different fibres to try, I bought some dyed silk throwsters waste, but was surprised when I got it as it has the texture of wire wool… Now I know why… But as I bought already dyed am confused if I treat as you have described, won’t the dye come out

    1. Hi Fiona, I bought some dyed stuff a while back too. It was only pale colours and I thought it was degummed but it wasn’t. It sounds like yours isn’t if it feels like wire wool. Yeah, the dye will come out if you degum it. I didn’t see the point of dyed stuff, but I think people use it in paper making, the sericin helps it all stick together.

  6. Ah Zed, you are always so helpful! I already use your direct dyeing pdf – it’s perfect for dyeing small amounts of silk fabric. I think I too have some pale colored silk throwsters waste which is not shiny and was a bit of mystery to use. Good to know that it too can be de-gummed and then dyed (again).and then look glorious too!

    1. You’re welcome πŸ™‚
      I’m glad you’ve found them useful. The throwster’s waste looks great undyed too.

  7. Thank you for the instructions that worked a treat. Mine was a WOW purchase too, a long time ago. I had previously sorted into 36″ lengths and tied at intervals. I did 100 grams and got it boiling for about 10 mins, put lid on saucepan and turned off and left for an hour. I brought back to boiling then did the rinsing etc. spun in pillowcase at 1600rpm cycle and dried outside. Problem now is do I chop into short lengths I can card for spinning, or do i feed strands while spinning another yarn.
    Would I spoil it if I cut it up? What did you do with yours, because yours was more tangled afterwards than mine. Barbara

    1. Thanks, Barbara πŸ™‚
      No, it doesn’t spoil if you cut it up, it might create more ‘stray’ fibres if you’re using it for spinning though. I think I saved my neater strands somewhere and haven’t dyed them yet. Some of mine were quite tangled, but some just look it because I squeezed them out by hand, and they separate quite easily. Sometimes I pull mine slowly through my handcarders to separate them, and have put them through the drum carder while making batts too. I suppose it depends how much time you’ve got πŸ™‚
      Tying them at intervals is a good idea to stop them tangling, I’ll try to remember that.

    2. Thank you for your quick reply that answered my question. . I cut up a small amount into 4″ to 6″ lengths and tried drum carding just the silk on its own. It was very tricky because it goes everywhere and sticks to everything. I have put rest of choppings to card with wool when I decide what I want to do with it.

  8. Thanks for the tutorial, bought the same a short time ago and while cheap it seemed like a total waste of time, but now I am ready to give it a go. Thanks.

    1. You’re welcome πŸ™‚
      I just degummed some more a few days ago then dyed it.

  9. Four years later from my previous comment: I finally got around to degumming the Throwsters Waste that I bought from World of Wool eons ago. (I need it for Pam de Groot’s online class). Thank you, Zed! They really transformed – interestingly, the colors disappeared and they are now a pale grey.

We'd love to hear your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.