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Eri Silk, Part II


The night prior to preparing rolags, I place a length of sliver in a baggie along with a damp cotton ball, which has been gently squeezed to prevent dripping. After tucking the damp cotton ball into a corner of the baggie away from the sliver, the baggie is sealed, and then popped into the freezer.


The next day I take out a G-clamp, one handcard, the wooden dowel and brush from my blending board kit, and a 6 mm metal knitting needle.

After clamping the carder to a table, I charge the carder with a thin layer of the hydrated eri silk. To doff the silk from the carder I place the dowel under the fringe of eri and rest it on the toe of the handcard. I position the dowel with approximately 2 inches extending beyond the left edge of the carder. The 6 mm metal knitting needle is placed on top of the fibre with its head extending beyond the left edge of the dowel. I now have a dowel/fibre/knitting needle sandwich which I will refer to from here on as a package. I slide the dowel and knitting needle towards me, along the fringe of fibre, until about an inch of fringe extends beyond the dowel and needle. Then I roll the package towards the heel of the hand card, until the dowel and needle lie one on top of the other. I gently pull the package towards me while watching the fibre draw through the teeth. Before rolling the fibre I have drafted out around the dowel and needle, I release the tension on the package. I then roll the fibre package towards the heel. When the dowel and needle sit once again with one on top of the other, I give the package another gentle pull. I continue the rolling and pulling actions until approximately half the fibre is wrapped around the package. Using a downwards motion the package is pulled free from the rest of the batt. 

I am right handed, so holding the package with the head of the needle to my right, I pull the needle free of package. The rolag is then slid off what was the left edge of the dowel (the end that had 2” of wood exposed). This part will become clear later….be sure to keep track of which end of the rolag lay on the left and on the right of the carder.

A second rolag is made by using the brush from the blending board kit to lift the fringe and repeating the process.

My hands get really warm and sometimes moist when spinning silk. Even when I try to use the lightest of grips, the fine silk fibres stick to my hands and draft poorly. This is why I spin eri silk from a distaff. In Part III will explain how I dress eri silk rolags on a distaff for spinning.

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