Stumbling around

I’ve been meaning to do a little post about this for a week or so now. Ribbon dyeing has kept me at the dyepot and the flower sewing table.

Here is how it ended (badly):

a mess- and a waste

It started by my wondering why I needed to peel the cocoons before cooking them to soften the sericin before making mawata.  The silkworms spin a loose hammock of silk in which to suspend the cocoons and each cocoon has a beautiful halo (kibisu) of this silk.  Seemed a waste to peel it off.  Why not just leave it and add to the mawata?  Sometimes wondering leads you astray as it did here.

After cooking the cocoons, they became hopelessly tangled with each other and when trying to separate them they proved impossible.  I soaked them longer, I spun some of it directly from the water (interesting) but in the end most was relegated to the compost pile.

So I learned that yes, peeling the cocoons is best when making mawata.  Most people are not facing this issue as they are buying commercial cocoons where the outer silk has already been mechanically removed. Live and learn.

It did lead me to wonder about wet spinning directly from cocoons though…

Update on the silkmoths-

There are a few still here but most are gone and I have been collecting and storing eggs for next year.

And, I have been peeling the cocoons and using the silk as batting for the shibori leaves and flowers.

And a new flower style-

4 thoughts on “Stumbling around

  1. johnmarshall302

    How funny! I’m sorry to hear that your idea didn’t work, but when I first glanced at the page I thought you had recycled the shells into a scrambled egg dish and that you were going to share the recipe with us!! Just goes to show that you shouldn’t believe everything you think! 🙂

    I love the idea that you pursued your idea, anyway. Despite many of the incredible techniques and perspectives Japanese culture offers us, much of it is simply unquestioned habit that is passed down as gospel. So often in the process of questioning any of our own thoughts, we stumble upon new and useful treasures – I often struggle to remain open to the potential without shutting it out as a failure. It’s going to be fun to see how the wet spinning works for you!

    I’m in your corner cheering!



  2. shiborigirl Post author

    part of what i love about recreating the past or past techniques is that by trial and error and first hand experience you get to reinvent and discover for yourself along the way. the whys and wherefores-the ins and outs. this is partly why i teach my classes the way i do- not to hold back “secret” information but to allow students to discover on their own- a much better way of learning in my opinion. i am just there to facilitate. to just accept something unquestioned because it has always been done that way forever
    (eraH..aGr..Ack…(secret encoded message)) doesn’t work for me. i want to KNOW- why how when and most importantly -what if…
    and in doing things in this manner, you discover Your Own Way. Your Own Work. Yourself. this is a deeper topic -maybe for a future post…

    and! i really cannot wait to have another go at the cocoons and the wet spinning. it was very cool to spin them right out of the water ending up with just the pupae in my hand reaching for another cocoon….
    i’m sure someone, somewhere has done this- i just haven’t seen it-yet. you can stumble on the strangest ideas sometimes.


  3. Eleanor

    I’ve learned (the hard way) that not all ideas are necessarily good ones. Good for you for trying, though.
    The flowers are fabulous. Can’t wait to get my order.


    1. shiborigirl Post author

      eleanor- just packed it up and printed the label. sooner than i thought- been very busy dyeing…

      by the way- i noticed that tassel forms are to be added to your shop. you can use the ribbon for tassels too….



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