Ethically Harvested: A Muga Silk Beret and Cowl to Knit

For the PieceWork November/December 2016 issue, Julie Turjoman designed the stunning “Peace Silk Beret and Cowl to Knit.” Do you ever wonder where a designer’s inspiration comes from? Sometimes, a design springs forth from the yarn itself. Here’s Julie to fill us in.

While researching and writing about ethically harvested Peace Silk, my curiosity about the fiber led me to seek out a variety of skeins to sample. Having designed with silk yarn in the past, I knew that it could be both smooth and pleasurably soft as it slid through my fingers onto the needles or rough and easily split, leaving my fingers covered with both dye and tiny abrasions. Thankfully, Muga silk from Vijay Fibers falls into the first category; from start to finish it is a tactile delight.

Beret and Cowl to Knit: Knit a Muga silk beret with a skein of Vijay Fibers Muga Etude, 100% Muga silk yarn, in Country Garden. Photos by Joe Coca.

Knit a Muga silk beret with a skein of Vijay Fibers Muga Etude, 100% Muga silk yarn, in Country Garden.

A very slight haze on the yarn surface keeps its multiple plies from raveling, making it glide easily from needle to needle with no concern about splitting. And although Peace Silk must be spun from thousands of shorter filaments (rather than reeled from a single long thread), my skeins had a tensile strength that never showed signs of breakage. The finished beret and cowl have a luxurious hand that contrasts surprisingly with the sturdy toughness of the fiber itself. In addition, because the silk takes dye well, with depth and subtlety, it never bled onto my fingers, and very little dye showed up in the warm-water bath before blocking. The semisolid palette adds dimension and character to these knitted projects but never distracts from the stitch textures.

Julie Turjoman’s eco-friendly “Peace Silk Beret and Cowl to Knit” adds style to any outfit. Photos by Joe Coca.

Julie Turjoman’s eco-friendly “Peace Silk Beret and Cowl to Knit” adds style to any outfit.

Although I suspected that the hazy surface of Muga silk might diminish the visibility of my chosen lace and stitch textures, that concern proved unfounded. The beret and cowl are as lacy as I could hope for, with a slouchy grace and a delicious softness next to the skin. The satisfaction of knowing that the silkworm pupae were allowed to complete their life cycles was a bonus. Although the production of Peace Silk makes it more expensive than yarn from traditional sericulture, the fiber that results from this method is exceptional.

—Julie

Featured Image: The Muga silk cowl will become a wardrobe staple. Photos by Joe Coca.


Julie’s fashionable eco-conscious designs are each available as an exclusive PieceWork kit. Knit your own ethically produced Muga Silk Cowl to Knit Kit or Muga Silk Beret to Knit Kit. Each kit includes a skein of scrumptious Vijay Fibers Muga Etude, 100% Muga silk yarn, in Country Garden and a print copy of PieceWork November/December 2016.


Knit one of these silky kits from PieceWork!

 

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