Saturday, 29 September 2012


Silk is without doubt my favourite fabric at the moment. I love the glorious colours and the varied textures. For me, silk has a richness, depth and lustre that no other fabric can match. I find I use it in one way or another in almost everything I do.

Sari silk strips and spun sari silk yarn
I have hanks and hanks of the recycled sari silks sqirrelled away. The photo left shows only a very small selection. I find them hard to resist, especially when they can be bought relatively cheaply. I have them in both a ribbon form which can be ironed flat and stitched over and also as spun yarns of various textures.

The range of colours is limitless. Many hanks come in random colours but various suppliers are now selling them with a specified colour range so I can be more selective. Actually, sometimes the random mixes have an advantage; I find myself trying out colour combinations I wouldn't usually use just because the fabric is there beside me and is so easily available.

Hanks of spun sari silk yarn 
The spun yarns are great for couching, weaving and, I'm sure, for 'mad' knitting. I've not tried the last technique yet but have seen other people's dramatic results.....

The ribbons are lovely to use in landscapes and make excellent cushions and bags. However, even these ribbons have limitations. There is often only a small quantity of each colour to work with and they are only available in a strip about 2 inches wide. I find my work can become very linear using them, even when I join the strips to give a bigger piece of fabric.

As a result, I am also gradually building up a stash of larger pieces of silk - though these are expensive and I find myself treating them very carefully which affects the way I work. I have to tell myself to be less precious with them otherwise things can become very static and inhibited.

At the moment, I'm biting the bullet and searching out silk by the metre in particular colours for a new project. I've found many of the suppliers with the best range of colours only sell to the trade or cost over £20 a metre - can anyone help with cheaper sources?

Silk samples from The Silk Route
The other day, I received a selection of samples from The Silk Route ( which looks a bit more promising. Next, I'm going to see Patricia Wood at Mulberry Silks  - she lives only ten miles from my house ( Having seen her glorious threads in the past, I have high hopes that she will have the colours I'm looking for and maybe this time I might be prepared to pay out.

If you haven't tried recycled sari silk in any of its forms yet, the best suppliers with the widest range of colours and textures seem to be on ebay ( and at Rainbow Silks ( both in the UK and in the USA ....

...... unless you've found better sources you'd like to share .....

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