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"Dream" Silk-Woven Bookmark

Michael Cook reveals his silk-weaving process from the cocoon stage to the woven bookmark.

Michael Cook doesn't just weave — he also spins his own silk, dyes his own silk, and yes, he raises his own silk worms to make his own silk thread.

Materials and Tools:

cocoons
heavy-glass canning jar
hot water
dish brush
spoon
croissure assembly (2 laundry pulleys, 2 fishing-line eyes, 1 garden shepherd's hook)
silk reel
crock-pot
various colors of silk yarn
loom
plastic tablets
shuttle
scissors, cardboard, pins
computer and printer

Steps:

1. To help loosen the sericin gum that bonds the cocoons together, place the cocoons into a heavy-glass canning jar and pour very hot water (but not boiling) over them. After two minutes, pour off the hot water and pour in cool tap water. The hot water forces air out of the cocoons making them fizz and bubble. The cool water is drawn into the cocoons as the air shrinks again.

2. Pour the wetted cocoons into a kettle of water that has just been taken off boil.

3. Rub a small dish brush around in a circular motion across the tops of the cocoons. Fibers from the cocoons will catch on the brush. Pull upward on the fibers and keep pulling them out until you get one end unwinding from each cocoon. Fish the cocoons out with a spoon and transfer them to the reeling crock-pot.

4. Pull the filament from about 15 to 20 cocoons together. Thread the filament through the croissure and attach it to the reel bobbin. Begin winding. As cocoons drop off, add on new cocoons to keep the filament at the same weight.

5. After all the silk is wound onto the bobbin, wind it back onto a fresh bobbin to keep it from sticking in place.

6. Design the piece with a computer or use graph paper. Lay out lettering and other designs so it will be easier to weave.

7. Stack the square tablets. Thread all the tablets with the thread for the border.

8. Wrap the thread around the loom, dropping one tablet on each pass.

9. Switch threads for the middle section and then the other border.

10. Tie the beginning of each set of threads to the end.

11. Wind the shuttle. Use the same thread as the border, so that it is hidden at the edges.

12. Tie the threads on and begin weaving your "Dream" silk woven bookmark. Weave by turning the tablets as a pack, forward and backward following the pattern. Tie off and cut the warp.

13. Fold the top end over and hand-stitch closed.

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