Review: Katrina Walker – June 25, 2016

2016_06_25 Katrina WalkerWe had a bonus “quarterly” meeting in June! Katrina Walker came and spoke on Silk: From Cocoon to Cloth and Wool: From Sheep to Suit. There’s much more to both than meets the eye.

Wool has kept humans warm and clothed for centuries. Sheep were domesticated over 11,000 years ago, and spinning is even older than that. Sheep are bred for various characteristics. We all know merino, which is a very soft fine wool that is good for clothing that can be worn next to the skin. There are many other breeds of sheep, all bred for a combination of their wool and meat production and ability to live in certain climates.

sewing with wool winning jacketWool from the same herd can be different each year because of the nutrition value of the grass, the health of the flock, how stressed they are with heat or other environmental factors. In order to have a consistent yarn base for dyeing and spinning, a large manufacturer may keep back a portion of each year’s wool clip. The wool is then blended so that it is more consistent. The same wool can be processed and then spun differently to create different types of fabric. Cavalry twill is spun very tightly and woven tightly in a twill pattern. This makes a very sturdy, long-wearing fabric. A loosely spun and loosely woven fabric is used for Chanel jackets. To keep moths away, be sure your wool, yarn, fabric and garments are clean. Roll your stash. That means getting wool items out in the air, and shake them out. refold and put away clean. Moths don’t like fresh air and light.

IMG_0526Sericulture, raising silk worms, has also been around for thousands of years. Bombyx mori is the type of moth most studied and most commonly grown. For the finest silk, the pupae is killed before it leaves the cocoon and the silk filament wound off. Katrina had a fascinating video of a silk thread manufacturing plan.IMG_0523

In the afternoon there was a hands-on workshop in working with silk. Katrina’s kits are so organized! There were definitions and samples of six kinds of silk fabric: Charmeuse, chiffon, crepe de chine, dupioni/shantung, habotai/china silk and noil/’raw’ silk. Each sample came with a description of the fabric, pros and conIMG_0528s using it, and suggested uses. She showed us samples of different types of fusibles and then we got to try different seam techniques. The best part was having detailed step outs of each seam with examples for our notebooks, plus notes on when to use each one. There was a french seam, a quick flat-fell, and a Hong Kong finish that was easier than I thought it would be. At the end we learned a triple stitched narrow hem that is an alternative to a rolled hem. It’s a great technique that I’ll be able to use immediately.

submitted by Leigh Wheeler