6 Ways of Spinning Recycled Sari Silk

Small skein of handspun yarn with a white base and bits of bright pink, blue, green, and black in it. Two small bundles of roving in blue and white on the left. All sits on a white lace background. A white panel with text reads: Handspinning with recycled sari silk. A photo journal. Banana Moon Studio.

Spinning Recycled Sari Silk Roving

Recycled sari silk is a colorful fiber that is collected from the mills that produce saris and made into fiber, roving, and yarn for fiber artists to enjoy. It can be spun alone or combined with other fibers. What I find most enjoyable about working with it is COLOR! If you want to try spinning recycled sari silk roving, check out my results and you’ll know the best method for you right of the bat!

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I’ve had the joy of experimenting with some recycled sari silk roving provided by Paradise Fibers, a local yarn and fiber shop located in Spokane, WA. I don’t live in Spokane, and I have never visited, but Paradise Fibers has a very user-friendly website and an active virtual community of crafters via their group and forum threads on Ravelry. I hope someday I will get to visit in person!

I wanted to show various ways that you can work with recycled sari silk. First off, if you are not a spinner, but would like to work with this fiber you can purchase recycled sari silk yarn from Paradise Fibers here.

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Photo of two small skeins of yarn, two-ply on the left, singles on the right. The yarn is dark maroon with small bits of other colors in it. Both sit on a white lace background. A white panel with text reads: Spinning recycled sari silk. 100% recycled sari silk roving. Two ply on the left. Singles on the right. Banana Moon Studio.
Knit swatch with stockinette stitch center and garter stitch edges. The swatch is knit with handspun yarn made from 100% recycled sari silk roving. The swatch is mostly dark maroon with many small bits of other colors in it. The swatch sits on a white lace background along with bundles of roving in white and bright pink. Text reads: Banana Moon Studio.

For the spinners, you can try spinning recycled sari silk roving all by itself! It has a very short staple length, so it needs quite a bit of twist to keep it together. I used a multicolored roving that I received in one of the Fiber of the Month Club packages from Paradise Fibers a few years ago for the sample below.

I spun the roving on my Ashford Traveller double drive spinning wheel into the singles you see in the smaller skein. Then I wound that into a center-pull ball and plied from both ends to make a two-ply DK weight yarn. I knit this on US size 5 [3.75 mm] needles into the swatch you see on the right.

The yarn didn’t seem all that soft, but the swatch is very soft and lightweight! It would make a delightful sweater, scarf, cowl, or shawl! I suggest you zoom in on the picture of the swatch and take in the color included in this yarn! It’s beautiful!

Next I wanted to try different methods of combining the sari silk with another base fiber to add pops of color to a neutral. I’d call it a tweed, but my additions of silk were a little too large to make a tweed effect. The base fiber I selected for this project was natural colored Blue-Faced Leicester, available from Paradise Fibers.

A small bundle of natural white wool roving along with small lengths of recycled sari silk roving in black, bright pink, bright blue, and bright green. All sits on a white lace background. Text reads: Banana Moon Studio.

I tried combining the BFL and silk in five different ways and made a small sample of each to see which I liked best. I hope that at the end of this post you will leave me a comment about which result you like best!

Each of the yarns made in these blending experiments was Z-spun into singles on my Ashford Traveller double drive spinning wheel, wound into a center-pull ball, and plied S from both ends. Each yarn is about DK weight. Last, I knit a swatch on US 8 [5 mm] needles.

The first thing I tried while spinning recycled sari silk roving was to combine the fibers using wool combs. I have a nice set of wool combs that I bought from Paradise Fibers. You can see them here. I just did one set of blending passes. What I found right away was that the short, dense silk fibers did not work well with wool combs. They tended to get stuck in the tips or in between the tines.

Wool comb with sharp steel double row of teeth sitting on a white lace cloth, points up. The comb has white wool and recycled sari silk in blue, pink, and black loaded in it. Clumps of sari silk are stuck around the tops of some teeth, as well as bunched at the bottom with the wool. Text reads: Banana Moon Studio.

What I ended up with was top that was mostly white and some clumps of short wool fibers combined with most of the silk. I spun all of this. The clumps were more like spinning from “cloud.” This resulted in a yarn that had most of the color concentrated at one end, but it turned out alright because I plied from both ends of a center-pull ball so that the white end was plied with the colorful end. The colors of silk got blended together a lot with this method.

Two wool combs sitting on their sides on a white lace cloth with teeth points facing each other. Each comb has some white wool and a lot of mixed colors of sari silk roving on it. Two bundles of white roving with a few tiny bits of sari silk threads mixed in sit in front of the combs. Text reads: Banana Moon Studio.
Clumps of white wool roving with quite a bit of mixed colors of sari silk roving mixed into them. Both clumps sit on a white lace background. Text reads: Banana Moon Studio.
Photo of a small skein of handspun yarn with a white wool base and strands of colored recycled sari silk in pink, black, and mixed colors throughout. It sits on a white lace background along with the edge of a wooden wool comb. A white panel with text reads: Handspinning with recycled sari silk. Wool and sari silk blended with wool combs. Banana Moon Studio.

I was happy with how the yarn and swatch turned out, but if I do this over again, this won’t be my go-to method because of the short fibers and clumping.

Next I decided to see if my results spinning recycled sari silk would be any different if I used one comb more like a hackle, just loading the fiber on and pulling it off without any blending passes. Because I don’t have a hackle, I didn’t use one in this set of experiments.

With this method the BFL pulled off the comb much more easily than the silk, so it still didn’t blend nicely. It took effort to make the silk come off with the BFL and it came off in large clumps. This resulted in more “white space” in my yarn and swatch than I wanted and it kept the colors more pure, less muddied.

It also meant that the silk didn’t get blended much with the wool in the yarn, they were in separate sections spun with their ends connected, if that makes sense. I liked it, but this still wasn’t my favorite method.

Photo of wool combs on a white lace cloth. One is empty and sits on its side. The other is loaded with white wool and bits of recycled sari silk roving in black, bright pink, blue, and green and sits flat with teeth pointed up. Text reads: Banana Moon Studio.
A wooden wool comb with sharp metal teeth sits on its side with bits of white wool and brightly colored recycled sari silk roving in its teeth. Three bits of roving of the same white wool sit next to the wool comb with large chunks of the bright sari silk roving barely mixed in. All sits on a white lace cloth. Text reads: Banana Moon Studio.
A small skein of handspun yarn sits on a white lace cloth. The yarn has a white base with long strands of black, green, pink, and blue recycled sari silk blended into it. A white panel with text reads: Handspinning with recycled sari silk. Wool and sari silk blended by using a comb like a hackle. Banana Moon Studio.
A knit swatch sits on a white lace cloth with two bundles of recycled sari silk roving in black and bright green. The swatch has a natural white base with broken up stripes of bright blue, pink, green, and black sari silk throughout. Text reads: Banana Moon Studio.

Next I decided to try my handcards. I have classic Ashford Handcards. If I had it to do over again, I would have loaded less fiber on the handcards at one time, and I would have decreased the silk to wool ratio. The way that I did it, my yarn and swatch wound up with a LOT of silk in them. This is fine, but it wasn’t what I was going for. I hand-rolled the rolags off my handcards, which made them fluffy and messy, but it worked. It turned out to be pretty, colorful, and soft. This is actually my husband’s favorite swatch.

Photo of a handcard and gold handled scissors sitting on a white lace cloth. The handcard has a base of white wool loaded onto it along with strips of recycled sari silk roving in bright pink, green, blue, and black atop it. Text reads: Banana Moon Studio.
A pile of lumpy, loose rolags sits on a white lace cloth. The rolags have a base of white wool with large amounts of bright pink, blue, green, and black recycled sari silk roving mixed in. Text reads: Banana Moon Studio.
Photo of a small skein of yarn on a white lace cloth along with a pair of gold-handled scissors. The yarn has a white base and many strands of black, pink, blue, and green sari silk throughout. A white panel with text reads: Handspinning with recycled sari silk. Blending the wool and sari silk with handcards. Banana Moon Studio.
Knit swatch on a white lace cloth along with a ball of yarn in the upper left. The swatch has a stockinette stitch center with garter stitch edges. It has a little natural colored white wool showing and large amounts of black, pink, blue, and green recycled sari silk roving throughout in vague stripes. Text reads: Banana Moon Studio.

The next blending tool I tried was my Ashford blending board. I really enjoy my blending board. It is a really fun tool to use and I’ve made a lot of beautiful yarn with it! I was pretty happy with the results of the blending board. I think if I did it again I’d add slightly more silk to each load of fiber, but not much. I used the dowels to pull off rolags that were neat and pretty.

Then I spun, plied, and knitted it into a pretty swatch that was just about what I was going for. I just needed to find a way to get more silk into the BFL that was hanging off the bottom of the board. That wound up leaving me with a big white patch in my swatch.

Blending board sitting upright with a white wool base and many small pieces of recycled sari silk roving in green, blue, pink, and black sprinkled over the top of it. In the background you see a white lace cloth. Text reads: Banana Moon Studio.
Two curled up rolags sit on a white lace cloth with a small slicker brush. The rolags have a base of natural colored white wool with several bits of pink, green, black, and blue recycled sari silk roving mixed in. Text reads: Banana Moon Studio.
Knit swatch sits on a white cloth with a small ball of yarn in the upper left corner. The swatch has large amounts of the base natural-colored wool showing with some stripes and splotches of recycled sari silk in pink, green, black, and blue. Text reads: Banana Moon Studio.
A small skein of handspun yarn on a white lace cloth with two bundles of roving in white and green and the blades of a pair of scissors. A white panel with text reads: Handspinning with recycled sari silk. Blending the wool and sari silk with a blending board. Banana Moon Studio.

The last technique I tried for spinning recycled sari silk actually turned out to be my favorite. It required the least amount of prep work too. For this last experiment I didn’t use any blending tools. I just held the wool and silk together as I drafted to combine them. I rotated colors of silk in a repeating pattern, holding the silk and wool together for just a bit and then spinning the BFL on it’s own in between bits of color. This kept the colors of silk from blending together, but it did a really nice job of blending the silk with the BFL.

I was so happy with how this yarn turned out and spent a ridiculous amount of time just admiring its bright, happy pops of color. Because of how long my sections of silk drafting were, and the size of my swatch, I wound up making a striping yarn. It wasn’t really what I intended, but I like it. The only drawback to this method, IMO, is the stop and start while drafting because you have to stop momentarily each time you pick up or put down the piece of silk roving with which you are working.

Hand holding white wool roving and pink recycled sari silk roving together with drafted handspun yarn coming off the end of the roving and moving towards a spinning wheel. In the background you can see the person's legs and spinning wheel as well as brown speckled carpet. Text reads: Banana Moon Studio.
Photo of a small skein of yarn on a white lace cloth along with two bundles of roving in white and blue and the handles of scissors. The yarn has a white base with many strands of pink, blue, green, and black recycled sari silk blended in. A white panel with text reads: Handspinning with recycled sari silk. Blending the wool and sari silk by drafting together. Banana Moon Studio.
A knit swatch sitting on a white lace cloth. The swatch has a center panel of stockinette stitch and borders of garter stitch. The base color of the swatch is a natural white with stripes of pink, green, blue, and black recycled sari silk throughout. Text reads: Banana Moon Studio.

I would really love to know your thoughts on my experiments spinning recycled sari silk! I’m dying to know which you like best! Which method do you think you would use? What would you have done differently? What blending tools do you love?

Please share your thoughts below, and happy spinning!

Signature. Text reads: April

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Three photos of handspun yarn in curled rolags, in a skein, and in a knit swatch. Purple and aqua panels with text read: Five ways to spin with recycled sari silk roving! Handspinning photo journal. Banana Moon Studio.
Close up of curled wool and sari silk rolags in white with pink, green, black, and blue sari silk. Small purple circle has a white line drawing of a spinning wheel inside it. White panel with text reads: Handspinning yarn with recycled sari silk roving. Banana Moon Studio.
Two photos of roving and spinning tools. One photo shows a small bundle of white wool with strips of black, pink, blue, and green recycled sari silk roving on a white lace cloth. The other photo shows white wool and recycled sari silk on a handcard along with gold-handled scissors on a white lace cloth. An aqua background with text reads: Spinning yarn with recycled sari silk roving. Banana Moon Studio. Click here.
Close up of a wool comb loaded with white wool and black, pink, blue, and green recycled sari silk roving. It sits with steel teeth pointed up on a white lace cloth. A white panel with yellow border and text reads: Working with recycled sari silk. Handspinning. Banana Moon Studio.
Four photos of handspun yarn, swatches, and tools. One photo shows a close up of a knit swatch of white wool and blue, green, pink, and black recycled sari silk. One photo shows curled up rolags. One shows white wool and colorful recycled sari silk loaded on a blending board. One shows a small skein of handspun yarn with the same white wool and colorful sari silk. A purple panel with text reads: Five ways to spin it! Handspinning yarn with recycled sari silk roving. Banana Moon Studio.

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