Working With Silk Sari Yarn - Sari Yarn Preparation And Projects
Looking for tips, hints and ideas for silk sari yarn?
Sari yarn is a unique, brilliantly coloured yarn made from sari silk remnants in India. It comes in hanks (skeins) and pre-prepared balls and each one is unique, due to the ordering of colours, the uneven yarn thickness and the skill of the individual spinner.
Sometimes sari yarn is called “recycled sari yarn” but is not made from recycled saris, only new sari silk remnants. Sari yarn can also known as Himalayan yarn, Nepalese Yarn, Kathmandu yarn and Tibetan yarn. Cottage industries have developed around the production of sari yarn and these often support women who handspin the yarn for a living.
You can buy sari yarn as a ball or a skein from online shops catering to crafters - these shops might specialise in preparing sari yarn for immediate use. Online craft shops also provide an ethical choice by supporting Fair Trade and good working conditions for the producers. For an alternative option, you can check out “sari yarn” on Ebay, which sometimes ships skeins direct from the warehouse.
Types Of Sari Yarn
I’ve encountered three main types of sari yarn. Although these types come in different grades and qualities, there is no list of “standard” grades. Most traders create their own grades and you’ll see a lot of “best grade”, “quality grade” and “Grade A & B” sari yarn. The best way to find the right sari yarn for your project is to focus on the types listed below and find an acceptable grade suitable for your intended project.
Silk Sari Yarn
This is a thin, brightly coloured recycled silk sari yarn that is the best all-purpose yarn for knitting and crotchet projects. Silk Sari Yarn bends easily and looks brilliantly coloured – it also works well when mixing yarns in a multicoloured project.
Silks, cotton and rayon (with occasional metal threads) are hand sewn or tied at each end to create this colourful yarn that is perfect for crotchet and knitting. Sari Ribbon is perfect for adding additional texture to freeform projects.
Live Wire Sari Yarn
This yarn is made from the recycled remnants left from sari production. It’s a thick yarn that doesn’t bend easily and is hard to knit and crotchet with, but you can make great woven rugs with it. Note: Live Wire Sari Yarn does not like to be unpicked and reused much as it tends to fall apart. However, it will be fine if only used once.
Sari Yarn Preparation
Does your sari yarn smell? If it’s a strong mildewy smell, this can be because the sari yarn was produced and stored during a rainy season in India, creating some bacterial smell in the yarn. If you can smell an earthy, musky smell (like patchouli, but not as strong as the bacterial smell) this can be attributed to the natural smell of silk. Many shops sell sari yarn which doesn’t smell and comes at a higher price – because they’ve washed it. You can save a few $$$ and handwash sari yarn yourself at home.
1. Undo the hank so it is a loose loop of thread. This requires a lot of patience! If your sari yarn is tightly twisted, check out the handy video on the left for instructions on untwisting.
2. Handwash in dishwashing liquid and cold water, taking care not to scrub too hard and create knotted fibres.
3. If the smell is strong and bacterial, skip Step 2 and soak the yarn for an hour in a bucket of cold water with a few drops of eucalypts oil (not recommended for sari ribbon as the eucalyptus will stain the ribbon colours).
4. Put the sari yarn into a pillowcase or bra bag and tie up the top. Wash in the washing machine on a cold setting. Add fabric softener if you’d like to soften the yarn.
5. Remove from bag and let yarn dry naturally.
6. Roll the sari yarn into a ball, ready for use.
Generally, for a higher price, you can get ready-to-use sari yarn which is prewashed, softened and rolled into a ball. I find you can save up to $20 per 100 grams if you do the washing, softening and rolling yourself. If your sari yarn smells like patchouli and doesn’t seem to be bacterial, you don’t even need to wash the yarn – you can use it straight after rolling it.
Silk Sari Yarn Projects & Ideas
I’ve had a lot of fun using silk sari yarn in many of my projects. When mixed with other yarns in crotcheted bags, you can get a nice hippie effect and the sari yarn strengthens the bag handle perfectly.
Silk sari yarn scarves can be crotcheted or knitted using any combination of stitches, but for maximum effect with the colours and also in preserving as much yarn as possible, try double and treble crotchet stitches, followed by a single row of crotchet when the work needs strengthening.
There’s a lot of stretch in crotcheted sari yarn items, so with the silk sari beanie I made, I just made it to the shape of my head in a sock/bag shape and it stretched after a few wears. The fringe on my beanie was made by using a grey yarn to match and following the pattern sc, sc, tr, tr, dtr, dtr, tr, tr and repeat around the edge.
I also like using silk sari yarn in projects without any crotcheting and knitting. For example, in a yarn scarf, where you cut lengths of mixed yarn, arrange them straight, wrap in paper and sew straight through the width on the sewing machine in a few places (or you can leave it unsewn).
A button necklace made of silk sari yarn was really easy as the yarn held the buttons in place much easier in preparation for knotting.
© 2013 Suzanne Day