Clean / De-Gum Silk
Silkworms build cocoons around themselves, which are harvested either before or after the worms hatch into moths. If your cocoons do not have holes in them, cut them open with a sharp pair of scissors and remove the dead pupae from the inside of the cocoon. If your cocoons already have holes in them - no dead worms to deal with. Silkworms hold their cocoons together with a substance called sericin. This is the substance we will be removing to make the cocoons ready to spin into yarn.
How to Wash or De-Gum Silk Cocoons
Prepare Your Cocoons: Remove the loose fuzzy support silks from exterior of cocoons and remove any larval/pupal "skin" (golden or brown in color) from the interior of the cocoon if they are present. Fill the cocoon with cool water and these skins will float to the top. You can remove them with tweezers.
- Fill a Pot with Water on the Stove
- Add 50-100 cocoons
- Add 1 TBSP (1/2 oz) of Power Scour (scented) or Beyond Clean (unscented)
- Bring water to a simmer (not a boil)
- Simmer the cocoons on the stove until they lose their shape and become limp and cotton-ball like.
- Rinse cocoons with warm water and gently squeeze to dry
- Spread out cocoons on a towel and allow to air dry completely
- Dye cocoons, card into batts, or spin as-is!