Archive for November, 2009

A-1 2/17 Tsumugi Silk

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Above swatch knit with 4 strands of tsumugi silk, 2 of each colors 47 and 50 knit on 5.5 mm needle.

A-1 2/17 tsumugi silk
100% silk

approx. 265 yds [239 mts]/oz. [28 gm]

Available in over 40 colors.

In Japanese, Tsumugi, refers to silk techniques woven from threads that come from broken or imperfect silkworm cocoons. Tsumugi has a nubby texture and slight stiffness with a beautiful, mysterious sheen. Even though it appears slubby, but once you begin working, you’ll see that the yarn is evenly spun and consistent. Its somewhat finer gauge requires a bit of patience than your usual instant-gratification yarn. However, tsumugi silk can be knitted up at several different gauges, depending on the overall desired effect you want to achieve. With single strand to create beautiful looking lace shawl, or combined strands to create a more sturdy fabric for pullovers, jackets or bags. The drape of tsumugi silk is flattering to any body shapes. It creates truly soft and flowing fabric that is ideal for next-to-skin wear and perfect for in between season. Currently, tsumugi silk is available in over 40 colors, from blood orange to fuchsia and your basic earth tones.

The above swatch is knitted with two strands of tsumugi silk in color 54 with 4mm needle.


Friday, November 20th, 2009

Ramie, one of the oldest textile fibers also known as “china grass”, white ramie, green ramie and rhea which referred as bast fibers; the fibers come from the phloem (the “inner bark” or the skin) tissue of the plant. Ramie is a actually a flowering plant in the nettle family Urticaceae. The process of turning ramie fibers into fabric is very alike to the process used for manufacturing linen from flax. The fiber is very fine like silk, and being naturally white in color it does not need bleaching.

Ramie was commonly used as mummy bandages in Egypt during the 3000-5000 BC. Image above via wikipedia.

The long, fine ramie fibers are a celluloid substance as is cotton, linen and other plant fibers’ but is a more porous sieve-like form, providing it with even better absorbency than other cellulose fibers. Other prominent properties of ramie include resistance to alkalies, rotting, light and mildew. The fiber has some natural stain resisting ability with ease of stain/soil removal similar to linen. Textiles/fabric made from ramie withstands high water temperatures during laundering. Its smooth lustrous appearance also improves with washing.

Fine/Medium/Thick/Superthick Twisted Ramie – Untwisted threads are easiest to use in wefts, while twisted yarns may be used as warp, weft, or knitting yarns. The medium weight is commonly used for table mats or wall hangings. The super thick weight use to make baskets.

In Japan, ramie is one of the main fibers used by common people aside from hemp, cotton and silk. It is ideal for summer-weight kimonos because of its high absorbency. The cloth does not stick to the skin, making it very comfortable to wear in hot, humid summers. Ramie is often blended with other natural fibers because of it’s unusual strength and absorbency. When blended with cotton, results in increased luster, strength and color. When wool is blended with ramie, it results in lightness and minimizes shrinkage, which is commonly available in woven and sweater knit form.

Ramie/ramie blend yarn carried by Habu Textiles

A-166 2/30 Ramie (thinner)

A-166C 2/18 Ramie (thicker)

A-13 402 Kakishibu Ramie

NS-6 Pineapple Ramie

AOS-Hand Tied Twisted Ramie

More reading resources

Linda at Stone Leaf Moon wrote a post about how to prepare hand tied ramie for weaving demonstrated by Takako Ueki owner of Habu Textiles.

A step by step process of turning ramie plant into fibre for weaving.