My First Mawata

Tonight I made my first mawata-or silk hankie-from silk worm cocoons. I’ve been wanting to try making mawatas myself, because I love spinning silk hankies, but was a little squeamish about handling a dead silk worm. I decided to try it and  ordered my cocoons from Fiber on a Whim and followed the directions from   While preparing for mawata making, I found myself walking into Tractor Supply for the first time to buy Orvus paste, which is in the equine section of the store.  So, basically, I found myself buying 7lbs of horse shampoo.  It’ll last me a lifetime.  So, tonight, I decided to arm myself with my cocoons, washing soda, and horse shampoo.  I followed the directions on gallon of water, 1/4 cup of Orvus paste, 1/4 cup washing soda, let it simmer for 30 minutes-and waited for the cocoons to soften.  The cocoons are coated with a hard shell which the horse shampoo breaks down, so that’s the purpose of the Orvus paste.  Anyways, it was finally time to take out the cocoons, which means taking out the dead bugs to0, and stretching the silk on a canvass stretcher.  I’m a wuss when it comes to hot water, so when I put my fingers into the simmering pot, it took me a couple minutes to be able to touch one of the cocoons.  Once I got one that was ok to handle, I opened up one end and let myself refuse to touch the bug as much as possible.  It came out ok and I let it plop in the water.  Then came time to stretch it on the canvass.  This is harder than I thought.  Cocoons can be tough in one spot because that’s where the last of the silk has been spun (wormspit told me this :)) so it was really hard to stretch.  I screwed up the first one and had to pitch it.  Then I tried the second one.  No luck again.  Still didn’t touch the bug.  Third one, much better this time.  I finally got one to stretch on the canvass, but there was a large pocket of silk in the middle.  I kept at it and finally I got over the bug phobia and decided to remove the thing from the cocoon and plop it in the water.  Making mawatas is a little sloppy, but a lot of fun.  I finally got done, took it off the frame and now it is drying.  I have to say my mawata making experience was very interesting and lots of fun.  Don’t worry, I have 40 more cocoons to make into mawatas.


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