Silk caps are made by boiling the cocoon, killing the silkworm, and degumming the silk. Then each cocoon is opened and stretched over an arched bamboo strip, as shown below.
The final silk cap is sort of a flat bell shape. I purchased two caps for about $4 each, and each one weighs about 15 grams. It doesn't sound expensive, but I just paid about $1/gram for undyed, unspun silk. I decided at this point to just jump in with both feet and dye my silk. You must understand, I've NEVER dyed anything before, and I decided this on spur of the moment on a Sunday when they needed to be ready to spin on Tuesday. So I did a you-tube search (what did they do before this?) and found a video of hand-dying silk using food dyes (thank you ChemKnits!) Who knew that
|Workers stretching silk cocoons over arched bamboo strips to make silk caps.|
|Dyed silk caps drying on a clean towel|
I spent the morning soaking the silk caps in water (enough to cover the fiber), plus about 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Next time I will definitely soak the silk overnight, as it absorbs liquid slowly and I still had a few undyed spots where my silk wasn't fully saturated. I set the oven at 175 deg F, and then got out my McCormick food dyes. That's right, food coloring my friends. I basically just added drops of colors that I liked, sticking with a blue/green color scheme. I tried to make each one shade from light to dark, but they blended a bit more than I wanted. Then I threw them in the oven to bake, he he.
|My silk caps dying in the oven.|
|At this point almost all of the dye is absorbed out of the water.|
|Removing the fiber from the dye bath|
|Rinsing leftover dye out of the fiber|
|The Final Product|
|Final Product 2 - Layers separated from each other in preparation for spinning.|