Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Cocoons to Thread

These 3500 little specks of black pepper are actually baby silkworms born last spring at the house.

Twenty-five days later they were spinning cocoons. (Click to enlarge.)

Cocoons from last spring ready to be processed into thread.

It takes time to process the cocoons into thread. Time was precious the past seven months and reeling  and spinning silk never made it to the priority list. The cocoons were kept in a fridge and once in a while a few hundred were taken out and reeled. 

Reeled silk is when the ends of the thread is found and the cocoons are unravelled using a zaguri. 

Here is the mystery of finding the end of the 1500 meter thread that makes up the cocoon.

Elizabeth from Kentucky, (whom I met in Vancouver at the Maiwa Symposium) is at the house for two weeks learning how to make different kinds of threads from silk cocoons. We started with the reeling ten cocoons at a time. Five to seven of these strands will be played together to make kimono warp threads. We will be working on decreasing the mountains of cocoons on the second floor.

Momo that lovely Minx is guarding the reeled silk.


  1. most of us can only dream of a mountain of cocoons!

  2. ok, to me it looks like a silk library, some wonderful wormy pages or volumes, perhaps...

  3. love the simple,efficient and clever japanese tools.
    great vids, worm spit is real!

  4. my dearest Liz! I'm sure she's in heaven.
    take good care of her for us! <3

  5. my dearest Liz!
    I'm sure she is in heaven over there.
    take good care of her for me <3

    1. she is fine. Our work hours are a wee bit off. She is a morning person and I am a night owl in the cold months. But all is good.

  6. I love this post, so interesting I never imagined how the thread came off the cocoons. I dont do weaving but I love stitching temari and yubinuki using silk threads.