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3 Spots Left – Sanjo Silk Spinning Workshop

On my wheel this evening. Mulberry Silk / Bombyx 50/50 Blend

I am teaching a Mulberry silk spinning workshop, April 28, 2019 at Sanjo Silk on Granville Island. If you have been tempted at all, there are three spots left. Details and a link to Eventbrite can be found under the Upcoming Workshops Tab. Look forward to seeing you there!

Cheers, Kim



This year I will be leading two workshops at SANJO SILK Ltd., 1531 Johnston Street, Granville Island, Vancouver, B.C.
Each one-day workshop is limited to 6 students.
The registration fees are: $120 for one workshop or $215 for both workshops. The registration fee for each workshop includes 150 grams of fibre, a full set of comprehensive notes as well as a binder for notes and samples.
Expanded workshop descriptions may be found under Claddagh Fibre Arts “Upcoming Workshops” tab.  

You can register through Eventbrite. Links can be found under “Upcoming Workshops”. 

April 28th : Mulberry Silk

This workshop  explores mulberry silk and the host of spinning preparations available to hand spinners. Over the course of the day you will have the pleasure of working with Mawata silk, spun silk, silk sliver, silk oil and a few of my favourite mulberry silk blends available from SANJO SILK’ s Studio.

September 8 : Non-mulberry Silk

I will introduce you to the world of non-mulberry silks. In this workshop you will spin exotic silk fibres such as Chinese tussah, Indian Tasar, Eri, Muga, Indian peduncle silk and some of their blends.


Following Glimmers of Inspiration……

It is always so interesting to see where one wee twinkle of an idea can lead us.  As I set up for one of my workshops last year, I took a hat box filled to the brim with nature dyed sample skeins and spilled them all out onto the table.

The intent was to inspire; to help students appreciate the potential in those sprays of leafy branches and bouquets of flowers waiting to be dyed on the table before them. To give them a sense of some the beautiful, rich colours to be coaxed from nature’s bounty. 


Looking out over the table I noticed three distinct divisions of colour. There were: soft neutrals that went beautifully with the greens; a band of yellows and yellow golds that complimented the greys; and a vibrant series of reds, oranges and pinks. The jumble of a hundred plus 10 gram skeins morphed; distilling into three colourways and better yet, three potential projects.

Here is a photo of the first project. In the next few posts I will share the glimmers of inspiration the colours aroused, the steps I was compelled to take and where this simple shawl has led me.

Gypsum flowers and Lilac blossoms.

Ashford Root Colours

No colour left in the dye bath after processing.  A sign of good technique!

Nice clear dye baths with all the colour pulled into the yarn after processing. The sign of a good dye run!

The jars in the first photo is of the root or base colours in the Ashford Dye Collection.  This collection of dyes are bright, fully saturated, in your face colours. Not really colours that many of us can wear.  That is because these dyes are not meant to be used right out of the jar, they are meant to be mixed. Below are some photos I recently received from a student who shared the results of her colour mixing experiments (using the Colour Compass module in the Downloads section).

Modulations of colour on silk.

Modulations of colour on silk



Quite a variety of colour compared to the root colours isn’t it.  Enjoy!


Modulations on wool using black, brown and the colour's complement.

Modulations on wool using black, brown and the colour’s complement.

Preparing Silk, nature dyeing

We have had an early spring here in Vancouver. This means it is time to get busy and mordant some yarn, hankies and fibre to have them ready as the plants come into season. Here are two dyeing hints that may prove helpful to anyone new to nature dyeing.

Shibori tape tied through the skein's centre and around silk hankies.

Shibori tape tied through the skein’s centre and around silk hankies.

1.  Shibori Tape is a very handy thing to have on hand in your dye studio. When I first started dyeing, as well as tying the skein with figure 8’s, I used old cotton shoe laces to tie two loops through the middle of the skein to mark its centre. Then I found Shibori Tape. I cut off the length I need, strip it down into narrower widths and tie two loops of the Shibori tape through the skein to mark the its centre. I switched to Shibori tape because: it does not absorb the dye; it is easy to find in the mordant or dye bath when I want to give the skein a swish or lift it from the bath; and it can be rinsed and reused.




2.  Potassium Aluminium Sulfate Mordant (alum) and cream of tartar (ctt) mordant procedure:  Many instructions simply tell you to dissolve the alum and the ctt in very hot water before adding them to the mordant bath.   I dissolve the alum first in a jar containing really hot water; boiled water that has sat for just a minute or two. Then with the alum well-dissolved I add the ctt and stir until it too is well dissolved. The milky solution shows you what a mordant bath looks like if you add the alum and ctt together or if you add the ctt before the alum is dissolved.  The nice clear solution is what your mordant bath will look like when you add the ctt after the alum is completely dissolved.  Remember you need the alum and ctt in solution for them to bond with your fibre.  Enjoy!

Alum and ctt added one right after the other; before the alum has had a chance to dissolve.

Alum and ctt added one right after the other; before the alum has had a chance to dissolve.

Alum added first and dissolved completely before the ctt is added.

Alum added first and dissolved completely before the ctt is added.

Brazil wood


A snapshot of silk embroidery yarns dyed with Brazilwood.  Colour modulations obtained via different mordants and dye concentrations.  Enjoy!

Fall Colours

Some of the colours that grace our yard on this beautiful fall day…..



I think some of them may have snuck into the dye pot today when I wasn’t looking……

fall 1fall 2fall 3

For you dyers…these have been dyed using Ashford dyes and a direct application method.  Enjoy!




Box of Silk “Chocolate”

Since April I have been nature dyeing spun silk and silk cord for a friend for her artwork.  Here is a photo of what was sent her way last week.  This colour palette was derived from pomegranate, cutch, quebracho, gallnut, symplocos, myrobalan, indigo, mock orange leaves, french lilac leaves and flowers, woodland violet flowers and leaves, deep majestic purple coloured gladiola flowers, pink echinachea, pink yarrow, lavender, dyers coreopsis and red dahlia.  To me this box of silk embroidery thread is more like a box of chocolates…..cause they are all just so yummy.

I love nature dyed silk.  The colours are so rich.

I love nature dyed silk. The colours are so rich.

Later this summer, I will work on a range of purples and reds with logwood, lac and cochineal.  Can hardly wait!

Silk Seduction, fall spinning workshop

Handspun Bluefaced Leicester/bleached tussah blend.

Handspun Bluefaced Leicester/bleached tussah blend.

September, 2015 I will be teaching a spinning workshop through the Greater Vancouver Weavers’ and Spinners Guild.  Silk has fascinated mankind since 2500 BC.  Silk’s luxurious hand and the way light dances along its surface is both mesmerizing and seductive. Hand spinning silk, however, can prove to be a bit challenging as one strives to tame those lustrous, slick, gossamer strands. Over the course of this 3 day workshop I will help participants to understand the adjustments needed to both their wheel and spinning method to successfully spin silk.

As well as reeling mulberry silk straight from the cocoon participants will spin a variety of fibre preparations from both mulberry and non-mulberry* silkworms. The silk fibres and blends we will explore include silk from: lustrous white mulberry silk in the form of sliver, hankies and noil; sliver and noil from honey-beige coloured tussah; shimmering golden muga sliver; cashmere-like creamy white eri sliver; and dark linen-like silk from tasar peduncle.

This photo is a BFL (Bluefaced Leicester)/bleached tussah blend.  Beautiful to work with and the resulting yarn has a soft silky hand, beautiful lustre and incredible drape.

*mulberry and non-mulberry silk are often referred to as Bombyx and wild silk respectively.

Silk Weaving Studio, April 18th


I will be joining Sanjo Silk at the Silk Weaving Studio for another Spin Day. Join us on Saturday April 18 between 11 and 2.

If you haven’t tried spinning Mawata Silk Hankies before, you are in for a treat. And, if you have tried spinning hankies in the past, but found the fibre difficult to draft, I will share a few simple hints to help you spin a beautiful, smooth, strong, lustrous silk yarn without the struggle. What is mawata silk?  In a nutshell, they are made from bombyx silk cocoons, which are softened in warm soapy water and then stretched and dried over a square form resulting in spinning preparations known as hankies. They’re also used for felting, but on Spin Day we’ll be concentrating on all the fun you can have spinning them.  (Checkout Sanjo’s website for photos and a more detailed description.)

Bring your wheel or drop spindle and do some spinning with us. There’ll be an introductory talk at 11:00, to help you get off to a good start. Then, if you have some handspun silk to show and talk about, bring it along. Spinning will follow. It will be a relaxed, informal session.

Hope to see you there!
Silk Weaving Studio
1531 Johnston Street, Granville Island,
on the waterfront beside the Sandbar Restaurant