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Tuesday, 27 May 2014


My silkworms are finally showing signs of growth.  At 16 days old they should be a bit further on than this, but we've had a bit of a cold spell which has held them back for a while.  They now live permanently on top of our water heater, and that seems to have got them going again - they're much more active too.

I've waited until today to take photos because I wanted to be sure some of them had gone through another skin change.  I'm fairly certain these are in their third instar (2 skin changes behind them) and they're looking a bit more grown up.  They've started developing stripes, and their heads are bigger (all the better for eating with!).  I'm not sure what colour these will turn into (probably mainly white), but they won't be like the ones I've had before which were black and white stripes.

Some of them haven't grown quite as fast - you can see the difference with the one in the middle and some medium sized worms on the left.

Two worms racing for the new leaf I'd just put in front of them.

Definitely looking a bit "lumpier" than before.

Under normal circumstances, silkworms generally reach the cocoon stage in about a month, but I think mine are going to be maybe another week after that because of the delay they've had.  Roll on warmer weather!

P.S.  Remember in my last post I was amazed at getting so many silkworms from 100 eggs?  Well the mystery was solved when I phoned my friend, Sarah, who ordered the eggs.  When I told her how many worms I had she sounded rather sheepish and said "Ah, well, I  ordered 1,000 for myself and then decanted what I thought was about 100 eggs into a container for you"!!  So how come we both got about 800 worms from 1,000 eggs? That's value for money!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

How Many Silkworms Do You Get From 100 Eggs?

Reasonable question?  I thought it was quite a silly question actually!  I know they always send more eggs than you've ordered because some of them won't be viable, but I stopped counting at 600!!  And I'm pretty sure I've got more than 800 now.  Someone needs to go back to school!

Anyway, here's an update photo :-

They're still quite small, but these have obviously gone through their first stage of skin-shedding and are now in their "second instar" - you can see that they're a different colour, much lighter with a whitish head and small black face.  They're eating much more now, and by the time they've finished with this leaf it will look like a piece of lace with holes everywhere.  When they get bigger they'll eat the lot!

My mulberry tree is quite big now (10 years old), but I'm quite worried that I'll run out of leaves before this lot reach maturity.  My neighbour has a large mulberry tree in his wood, but it's quite tall and difficult to reach the leaves, but I may have to ask him for some leaves if my tree is getting bare.  We'll see how they get on.  Otherwise, the local birds will be eating a very exotic diet!

Happy Sunday everyone.

Sunday, 11 May 2014


First three silkworms hatched this morning.  After not having any last year (the eggs didn't hatch - too old probably), it feels good to have some more.  I'm expecting more to hatch tomorrow morning.  There are usually a small amount of early ones before the main hatching, and then stragglers afterwards.

These three practically ran to the leaves when I put them in their box and they've been guzzling voraciously ever since.

I'll try not to bore you with photos of each new hatchling, but I really can't promise!!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Spinning Again

The length of time between posts seems to be getting longer just lately, mainly because we've been busy trying to get my new kitchen to the stage where we can put in the cupboards, cooker, sink etc.  All the electrics are now in, the plaster-board is finished and painted, and the woodwork is almost all stained.  Next - floor!  We bought some oak flooring for in here and should start fitting that within a day or two.

So, spinning . . .

I've been gradually working through a dustbin liner of baby alpaca (from Jorrocks) and now only have about a plastic carrier bag left.  He's a really nice colour, rose-grey with white and paler grey bits, and the wool has turned out super-soft.  But the other day, right in the middle of spinning this, I felt like some easy spinning.  Something someone else had done the preparation and dyeing work for.  I pulled this out of the bag and spent a few days spinning :-

This has been sitting around since last July when I bought it at Le Lot et La Laine festival.  I have no idea what this is - it was prepared by Katikolor and she couldn't remember which fibres she'd used.  I didn't care really because I loved the colours and the feel of it.

At the same time, I realised my bobbins were getting full again and I really need to empty some in time for the Tour de Fleece which starts on 5th July.  I had half a bobbin of some blue and white merino that I spun ages ago, and then I had lots of bobbins with just a small amount on each.  I didn't really have anything that I could ply with the blue and white merino, so I made the single thread into a centre-pull ball and plied from each end, i.e. the end from the middle of the ball and the outside bit.  I was surprised and happy at how easy it was to do this as I'd envisioned getting into a real tangle with it.

Most of the random bits were then plied together onto a bobbin - amazingly, I ended up with 70g of yarn.  Haven't a clue what this will become, but it looked quite good in the skein.

Happy Skeins!
The one on the right is the unknown mix by Katikolor - 289 yards/267 metros, 130g; centre is the blue and white merino - 165 yards/152m, 50g; and the one on the left is the odds and ends of bobbins.  I haven't worked out the yardage for this one as I'm not sure if it will be used in it's entirety for a project, or just bits and pieces here and there as accents in other projects.

The two small balls of yarn at the front were separated out because the green and white had already been plied and just went into the skein for ease of washing, and the darker one is Ouessant that I dyed for last year's TdF and have a larger ball that this can join. For this one I used the centre-pull ball method of plying again - brilliant because it uses up every scrap of yarn.

Now for the really exciting news.  Yesterday I collected a little package from my friend Sarah of La Maison des Chameaux :-

There are approximately100 silkworm eggs here!!  Sarah was ordering some for herself so just added another 100 to the order for me.  Thanks Sarah!!

I put the eggs on top of some kitchen roll inside a cardboard box.  The bowl at the right hand side is a small foil dish with a wet piece of kitchen paper inside.  This is to give the eggs a bit of humidity so they don't dry out too much.  I've put the whole lot into the greenhouse and will be watching avidly for signs of life over the next week.  They can take about 10 days to hatch, but they've been in the post for probably about 4 days so maybe not long to wait.

You do realise I'll be boring you all for the next 6-8 weeks with photos of my "babies"!! Time to switch off now if you don't want to see!