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Thread: Milkweed silk

  1. #1
    Sustainable Member Amanda's Avatar
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    Milkweed silk

    After bing inspired by the cattail fluff thread, I decided to research a little bit on the uses of milkweed silk, as it is just as common as cattail around my folks place, and it's more than a bit of a nuisance for gardening.

    I found out that it's been used extensively! Milkweed silk can be eaten (when the pods are immature) and was used extensively as a medicine by Native Americans. In the forties it was used to stuff pillows, insulate life-jackets and sleeping bags, and had other similar uses.

    But what I was really interested in was trying to find out of the silk can somehow be prepared and made into yarn. It's a plentiful enough resource around my upstate NY area, that it'd be a lot more viable than buying a lot of wool or alpaca. I seemed to get close to the information I wanted, milkweed silk can be felted, but I can't seem to refine my search down to spinning. Can anyone give me some advice? Has anyone tried spinning the fine fibers?
    "How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened? But in the end, itís only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it'll shine out the clearer..." -- Sam

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    Last edited by sos; 11-28-2011 at 04:08 AM.

  3. #3
    Sustainable Member Amanda's Avatar
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    I'd never really looked into flax...Thanks!
    "How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened? But in the end, itís only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it'll shine out the clearer..." -- Sam

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    Last edited by sos; 11-28-2011 at 04:07 AM.

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    Sustainable Member Amanda's Avatar
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    I know, youtube and wiki have been such a big help! I learned to spin mostly from a couple videos here and there, through wiki and through some of the books my parents lent/gave me. Wiki was actually one of the first places I went to look when you suggested flax! (lol) I also returned to some of the milkweed sites I was looking at...I thought I remembered I saw something about being able to spin the thick fibers from the stalk, much like you would flax, after going through the processing.
    If I weren't moving out of my parents home into the city, I'd definitely be growing some flax next season too! It sounds like a fun and sustainable way to spend my summer.
    Last edited by Amanda; 09-26-2011 at 07:37 PM.
    "How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened? But in the end, itís only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it'll shine out the clearer..." -- Sam

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    Last edited by sos; 11-28-2011 at 04:05 AM.

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    Sustainable Member Amanda's Avatar
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    Just for giggles, since I had a couple hours to spare, I harvested and de-seeded the some milkweed and tried spinning it. The result turned out lumpy, fragile and incredibly wispy! It wouldn't handle rough, everyday wear, even mixed with another fiber (like how you said SOS). But it could be incredibly pretty as a novelty yarn made for jewelry! My household was rather impressed, as am I.

    I also ordered a little flax from an online vendor. I can't wait until it arrives.
    "How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened? But in the end, itís only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it'll shine out the clearer..." -- Sam

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    Last edited by sos; 11-28-2011 at 04:14 AM.

  9. #9
    Sustainable Member Amanda's Avatar
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    A good thing I spread the seeds over an approved area after I stripped them off the pods and silk...Most pods were mature and just opening anyway, so it's possible that they'll sprout!

    And I'll definitely stay away from the wood stove with the flax...What a sight that would be, seeing me dance around the kitchen trying to put of my spindle and distaff!
    "How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened? But in the end, itís only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it'll shine out the clearer..." -- Sam

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