Silk carrier rods

Have you ever used silk carrier rods in your work? They’re a by product of the silk industry. As silk is reeled off the cocoons small deposits are left behind on the rods which has to be cut off. Due to the serecin in the silk the rods usually retain their cyclindrical shape. After soaking you can split the rods into layers and add into your felt. They dye beautifully, can be used in creative textile and one lady has even told me she spins with them. I think that last one may be beyond me.

Silk is becoming harder to source and the last consignment of silk carrier rods to Adelaide Walker weren’t as cylindrical and straight as previous lots.


Now I soak and peel mine but a customer really wanted to use them to represent figures in her work so needed the more rigid shape. As the sericin is still present I didn’t see why they couldn’t be reshaped. I quickly came to the conclusion that I needed something around which to form the shape – a knitting needle.


The rod was soaked for 10 minutes first but I think I’d probably have got away with wetting it down well or soaking for only 2 minutes. Wet and floppy, it wouldn’t stay on the needle so I used a little sewing thread just to keep it in place. It wasn’t wrapped tightly and the thread wasn’t even knotted it just kept it in place during drying.


Hasn’t it worked well? Once dry, the rods slipped easily off the needle and are wonderfully straight and rigid. It leads me to believe I could have formed other shapes too and probably would if I could work out what to do with them afterwards.