Knitting with Silk Hankies

Stephanie McPhee had a post earlier this week that was fascinating.  She talked about knitting mittens from silk hankies. 

Silkhankies undyed

This is likely not the item that comes to mind when you think "silk hankie."  It is not a neatly hemmed square of shiny fabric.  Rather, it is a single cocoon spread out over a frame to dry.  There is more on the process here.

I loved Stephanie's post, because I had recently found some silk hankies tucked away in my studio.  I had dyed and used a small amount in a fabric collage.  I was wondering what to do with them.


Stephanie's post made me think it would be fun to experiment with knitting them like she was, but alas, she had no directions.  It turned out to be a simple process.  The hankies are deeply layered, so the greatest difficulty is in thinning them out.  It's important to pull just one gossamer fine layer off the top.  Making a hole in the middle permits you to gently pull the fiber around until you have a big fine lasso loop of silk.


If you continue to gently stretch the fibers out you can achieve a "yarn" of your desired thickness, and gently pull the circle apart so you have a beginning and an end.  Then, you begin to knit.


You see now why it caught my interest.  I decided to knit just a bit to experiment with how it works.  It's a soft but at the same time sort of rough looking fabric.  And look!  A big tail of silk winding off of your knitting!  If you wanted to be precise, I suppose you could pull your hankies out to an even measure for a uniform fabric, although that would seem to defeat a lot of the fun of this process to me.


I'm sensing little silk hankie knitting kits as Christmas presents for some of the charming, crafty, young ladies in my life.  If you want to try this, there are plenty of dyed silk hankies available on etsy, but you could easily dye some of your own or try this with undyed.  This is pure fun for an evening when you find yourself in need of a little destress, but be forewarned, everyone who is near you is going to be completely fascinated by the process and insist on getting involved, whether it's little ones who want to stretch the hankies or grown men who want to try and knit a stitch.  There is something fascinating about knitting more or less straight off of the cocoon!


6 thoughts on “Knitting with Silk Hankies

  1. On youtube rexenne has a video of how to spin silk hankies, she demonstrates how to stretch out the hankie into a spinnable–or knittable roving.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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