Here's an example of what a silk rod looks like,
also shown are silk cocoons.
What are silk rods?
Silk rods (known as silk carrier rods) are a byproduct of the process of winding silk from cocoons during the first stage of silk yarn production.
The rods are about 4" to 5" long and resemble a split tube that can be pulled apart into several thin layers and then teased to expose the fibers. They can be dyed, and are useful in embroidery, papermaking, and other fiber arts.
So what can I do with silk carrier rods?
We're so glad you asked! Stef Francis works with all sorts of unique materials at exhibitions and was frequently asked this question. Here are tips from Stef for using rods and simple stitches to create beautiful designs.
After dyeing to your linking, you can pull the layers of rods apart for interesting effects. After pulling the rods apart, you can stitch two of them together at the edges with a simple running stitch to create a raised frill. Continue in a like manner adding more rod pieces to produce a piece of rectangular ‘rod fabric.’
Dye does not fully penetrate the rod, and as you separate the layers, the colors become increasingly pale, often turning white with a colored wavy edge (see picture at right).
When you have a large enough piece of rod fabric, place it onto a piece of hand-dyed background fabric and stitch into the fabric and the rods. You can add additional bits of the rod pieces to complement the design.
Sound like fun? Check out the full article "Fun with Silk Rods, Cocoons, and Bark" by Stef Francis in Quilting Arts Magazine Spring 2005.