Fibre Characteristics Deep Dive: Silk

7 June 2023

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“You can never be too rich or too thin—or own too many silk shirts.”[1]

As a twenty-something fashion fanatic, I took this saying to heart. And while the part about being rich and thin was—and still is—terrible, I always think of this quote when I think of silk.

There was a time when silk was the thing to have in your wardrobe. It spoke of luxury and elegance then, and it still does today. We use silk as a point of reference to describe all things shiny, soft, flowing, and opulent.

It turns out that silk, while still luxurious, is not as rare and unattainable as I once thought it was. Silk has a reputation for being difficult to work with and expensive to obtain, but that has rarely been my experience as a crafter, and now that I make my own yarn, cloth, and clothing I have several silk shirts. While quality silk yarns are pricier than their synthetic counterparts, many silks cost little more than the equivalent amount of a good hand-dyed wool yarn. And I consider that added cost worth it for the shine and drape that silk brings to our cloth.

[1] The first part of this quote is attributed to Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor; the second part was anonymously added later.

All photos by Michelle Boyd.

Copyright © Michelle Boyd except as indicated.

About Michelle Boyd

Michelle Boyd is a Master Spinner, weaver, and writer who lives in Olds, Alberta, located in Treaty 7 Territory, the ancestral lands of the peoples of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Michelle learned to spin in 1995 when her local yarn shop closed, and she became obsessed with the art and science of making yarn. She has taught workshops across North America and instructed for the Olds College Master Spinner Program for fifteen years. She is also a frequent contributor to both PLY Magazine and Digits & Threads and is currently completing her first book about spinning.

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