Some strange silk.

Some strange silk.

You saw Jan’s post about the group silk order our guild did after we had a presentation about silk at a meeting. If not or you need reminding it is here:  I have not seen her silk yet. I hope I get to see it the next time we are together. Perhaps she is hiding it from me, afraid I will try to make off with it after seeing what I got.

I have lots of nice silk so I decided to go the other way, I bought the strange stuff. It will be interesting to have at demos.

I got these Tussa silk cocoons. They aren’t like the regular ones you see. These are from wild silkworms and are much bigger than regular ones.  I have never seen them for sale before. This is what the site says about them:

If you think Bombyx cocoons are fascinating, then you’ll be gobsmacked by these. The Tussah silkworm is wild, which means it eats in the wild. The cocoons are harvested from the forests where they feed. They’re huge compared to Bombyx cocoons; each one is about 1 1/2″ (almost 4 cm) long, not including the pedencal stem. This stem, with the ring at the end, is what the silkworm attaches itself to the tree branch with. Each of the cocoons has been cut, and the pupa removed.

tussa silk cocoons tussa silk cocoons

I also got some of this, Kibiso. It might be interesting to use. I am not sure how but we will see. It feels very much like skinny carrier rods if you have seen those or paper.  The website says:

100% Silk Kibiso, which is the outer part of the bombyx cocoon, the less refined part.  It’s a bit like Excelsior, which is the woody fibre used in Easter baskets, but this is 100% Silk. It’s a nest of fibre, unprocessed, stiff, and lofty. It takes dye spectacularly,


Kibiso Kibiso Kibiso


Last is strangest. they’re 2 thicknesses of the same I am not sure why I got both. The excitement of the moment perhaps.

The finer stuff it says:

This yarn is 100% Silk – Tussah, which has been cajoled into this wonderful yarn. It’s stiff, quirky, and will add lots of texture and personality to your creative pieces. It can be woven and knitted – think about 3-dimensional pieces. Use it along the edge of a knitted piece. Incorporate it into your weaving to add body and texture.

strange silk yarn strange silk yarn strange silk yarn close up


And the thicker one says:

This is the yarn that gets the most attention when seen in person. In a whole display of beautiful, luscious silk yarns, people will zoom in on this one and say, “Wow, what is THIS???” It’s 100% Silk. We call it dreadlocks because that’s exactly what it looks like. It’s thick and glorious. It’s quite firm when you get it, but it softens a bit when soaked in warm water. This is a yarn that requires imagination. Think about 3 dimensions when using this yarn – it’s thick, has loads of body, and has the most intriguing texture. Make baskets with it. Wall hangings. Sculptural pieces. It’s truly magnificent.

super thick strange silk yarn

comarison of thin and thsuper thick strange silk yarn

super thick strange silk yarn close up

“Yarn”., I put that in quotes because it is technically yarn but would not say it was spun. Looking at it I would say someone rolled some wet gummy scrap fibre in some mud or a barnyard and called it done. Calling them dreadlocks is an insult to dreadlocks and calling it glorious or magnificent, is just wrong. Interesting, intriguing, sure but glorious, no. I can’t help feeling like there is someone somewhere havering a great laugh at my expense. I can’t say I blame them. LOL

At some point, I will soak some in hot water and some with hot water and soda ash to see what happens to them. What would you do with them?





21 thoughts on “Some strange silk.

  1. We admire your sense of adventure 🙂

    The final ‘yarn photo’ looks like something (unidentifiable) that’s been mummified. Perhaps we’re being too judgemental? Could you create something magnificent from this?

    Watching this space.

  2. I think I would be inclined to unravel those “yarns” while they are still wet (dry might be too difficult) and use them, probably dyed, as surface embellishments for felt vessels. Dyed, they’d look less like a bunch of roots. If they become softer I might even use them on felt accessories, but probably not scarves, or clothing – depends upon how soft you can get them.
    I like the cocoons. I was thinking that you might be able to peel them into layers or even stretch them larger, like the carrier rods. That could be very interesting. I’d be inclined to paint them with dye – different colours rather than one colour. In fact if you’re clever with a paintbrush you might be able to get a miniature scene on one. I’m talking myself into another project here, and I’m trying to get rid of some of them, not add to them.

    1. Lots of good ideas. I do plan of trying soaking and soaking with soda ash to see what happens to them. I think they ladies said the cocoons can’t be stretched out like the domesticated cocoons. I may sacrifice one to see what happens. I didn’t get many. I don’t think anything is big enough to paint a scene on. I should have put a ruler in the pictures.

  3. Hmmm, I agree, “glorious is a stretch, however incorporated into a landscape as the truck/branches of a tree/trees may bring “magnificent” into play…a winter scene? It looks as if fabric paint may sit on it for further relief for use in landscapes? Fencing?Interesting for certain. Looking forward to seeing how it all shakes out.

    1. trunks / branches and fence posts are all good ideas. I am going to see if I can take one apart. I don’t know if paint would stick to the yarns. They really seem like they are dirt encrusted and the dirt does fall of a bit.

  4. I’m always excited to see new things – and these are the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time…and they are silk! I think the first thing I would do, is make an artistic piece that exhibits small samples of each, and create a framed piece for my wall. I love the colors and different textures… (Brian is lucky I missed this opportunity😋)

  5. Wow! What an interesting and intriguing collection Ann. I wouldn’t know where to start! This is going to be a real education. ❤

  6. I love that you opted for the weird stuff when given the choice. I have every confidence that you’ll do something fabulous with it when you get around to it

  7. My understanding is that the farmed mulberry silk moths are killed before hatching, whereas the wild moths are allowed to hatch.
    “Wild silks are usually harvested after the moths have left the cocoons, cutting the threads in the process, so that there is not one long thread, as with domesticated silkworms.”

    1. Hi, I think how they are harvested depends on the place it is done. I believe that with demand being high they now plant eggs to increase numbers. Some being harvested whole and some being allowed to hatch and produce eggs to continue the cycle. Depending on the species and their diet, the silk can be very different. It is a very cool fibre.

  8. Definitely an interesting collection of weird silk items Ann….but as presented I agree with your take on ‘glorious’, particularly the Egyptian archeological yarn!!!

    The Kibiso looks like it will offer a variety of textural opportunities.

    As others above I look forward to seeing your experiments & conclusions….good luck!

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