Sunday, 29 November 2015

Mona Sultan – A Designer with Conscience

Syrian born, Mona Sultan is a Vancouver-based fashion accessory designer. For the work we’re featuring here, she has collaborated with textile artist Portia Boehm to create fabulously voluptuous and colourful necklaces. They are available at Holt Renfrew’s H Project and 100% of the net profits from sales will go to the Karam Foundation’s “Innovative Education” and “Learn Not Earn” initiatives, helping to bring the 2.8 million Syrian children out of labour and back to school.

 Sultan uses Sanjo Silk’s 10-005 for the sumptuous tassles on these statement pieces. They also feature fabric off-cuts from previous styles of her signature scarf line as a way to re-purpose samples. They were inspired by Sultan’s years of travel in the Mediterranean region.

See Mona Sultan’s beautiful work at her website.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Yahooo!! Silk Wool Spin Fibre!

We are just so tickled to have this new spinning fibre. We've long had 2 gorgeous yarns in this 50% Bombyx Silk 50% Merino Wool combination - 10-217 (30/2 weaving yarn) and 20-056 (12/3, a bit heavier, mostly used for knitting). But now you can spin your own yarn. We had to look twice when we opened the big bag of fibre when it arrived. It's so lustrous we wondered if it was all silk. But NO! Half the content is lovely, soft merino wool.
Can you tell we're excited?

Monday, 7 September 2015

Ceranchia Cocoons - Big & Beautiful

We have a new addition to our roster of cocoons available at Sanjo Silk.

Ceranchia cocoons come from Madagascar. We're supporting a project there that has re-established silk production as a sustainable, ecologically-responsible economy for a region that is much in need.

The men in this region grow the trees upon which the silkworms feed, and they rear these silkworms and gather the giant cocoons. The women then turn the cocoons into beautiful panels of stitched-together amazingness.

The cocoons are double - an outer layer, and a separate inner layer. The outer layer is larger (about 3 1/2" X 2 1/4") and lacy. The inner layer is slightly smaller and more densely spun. The otherworldly gold colour is the natural colour of these beauties.

At Sanjo we have both the individual cocoons (which we provide in packages of 5), and the beautiful panels, which come in a 1 metre X 1 metre size, or a 1 metre X 3 metre size. The panels are currently on display at the Silk Weaving Studio on Granville Island. The cocoons are available on the Sanjo Silk website.

Not only are they stunningly lovely, but you can get a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing that you're helping to support a group of people half a world away.

Sunday, 23 August 2015


It's been a little while since we painted yarn, and sometimes we forget how scrumptious it is. This is one of the new colourways under way. It'll be magically turned into knitting kits, skeins of yarn, ribbons, spinning fibre...  As always, we only sell the painted yarns in the studio. They're so limited-edition, and each skein is different. How do you present that online? Our advice is to come in and see it in person. It'll be there in about 2 weeks. (2nd week of September). Enjoy the summer; it will so soon be behind us.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Fun on Spin Day

 We had a capacity crowd at the Silk Weaving Studio for Spin Day on Apr 18. Kim McKenna, our gentle, patient and uber-knowledgeable guide for the session, taught us how to spin directly from mawatas, or silk hankies. We also learned how to discern the difference between good quality and not-so-good versions, and how the resulting yarn's qualities are such a direct reflection of that.
 We also learned that the size of a drop spindle is proportionate to the size of the yarn you're spinning. This little beauty is called a tahkli, and relatively weighty brass whorl does a smashing job in the hands of a skilled spinner. Spinners with spinning wheels got tips on tweaking their wheels to get the best results.
Here's some silk yarn, spun by Kim. Plied, beautifully balanced, and with an irresistible slub. Doesn't it make you want to do this???
Thank you, Kim, for passing on your always amazing knowledge; thank you to all who came to spend a few hours in this gentle pastime.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Artist Profile - Julie Pongrac

 Top of the World - Silk Bowl; Silk Casings (12-902), Paper Ribbon (14-007), Silk Gima (30-009)

Sanjo Silk has some amazingly creative artists who use our yarns and materials to make their art pieces. This blog post features the Julie Pongrac, Master Knitter, and is the first in a series of posts featuring some of these stunningly talented people.

Julie Pongrac is a Canadian artist based in Vancouver.  Dedicated to producing garments and sculpture from natural materials such as linen, silk, mohair and wool, she draws from an extensive fibre arts background primarily focusing on knitting.  Inspiration is drawn from her excursions into the natural environment from the rainforests of the British Columbia coastline and to the highest peaks of the mountains.  Julie Pongrac Studio where she produces her work can be found at 1000 Parker St in East Vancouver.
Artist & Designer
Julie Pongrac Studio
305 - 1000 Parker Sreet
Vancouver, BC, V6A 2H2
Black Silk V-neck - Machine & Hand knit; 20/2 uneven silk (10-006), silk frise (20-202)
 Lichen Wrap - Handspun & Hand knit; hand-painted bombyx spinning fibre (10-001) - 100% at the edge and feathered progressively by carding with merino wool

Monday, 6 April 2015

Spin Day at the Silk Weaving Studio - April 18, 2015

Kim McKenna, Spinner Extraordinaire, will be joining Sanjo Silk at the Silk Weaving Studio for another Spin Day. Join us on Saturday April 18 between 11 and 2.
If you haven't tried spinning Mawata Silk Hankies before you are in for a treat.  And, if you have tried spinning hankies in the past, but found the fibre difficult to draft, Kim will share a few simple hints to help you spin a beautiful, smooth, strong, lustrous silk yarn without the struggle.  What is mawata silk?  Have a look here for photos and a description. They're made made from bombyx silk cocoons, which are softened in warm soapy water and then stretched and dried over a square form resulting in spinning preparations known as hankies. They're also used for felting, but on Spin Day we'll be concentrating on all the fun you can have spinning them.
Bring your wheel or drop spindle and do some spinning with us. There'll be an introductory talk at 11:00, to help you get off to a good start. Then, if you've got some handspun silk to show and talk about, bring it along. Spinning will follow. It will be a relaxed, informal session.

Hope to see you there!
Silk Weaving Studio
1531 Johnston Street, Granville Island,
on the waterfront beside the Sandbar Restaurant

Monday, 30 March 2015

Ooh, Everyone Loves a Sale

Limited time offer! We're selling our cones of undyed 100% Bombyx Silk 8/2 at 20% off. We just have too many, so our overindulgence becomes your advantage. This is a heavy, lovely yarn. At 8/2, it's hardly what you'd call a "chunky" yarn, but in the silk world, this is considered fairly heavy. Knit with it. Weave with it. Or just sit and look at it and let inspiration carry you away for a while...
10-005 on Cones
P.S.  we're just working on 2 new knitting kits, a shawl and a scarf, that use this yarn. Stay tuned. The sample is absolutely glorious.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

New Stuff

We just wanted to let you know that we've added a whole bunch of new things to the Sanjo Silk website. It's always so much fun when this happens, and we don't like to keep all that to ourselves.
Uber-yummy 10-207, which is a 65% Silk 35% Linen. It's got a soft drape of silk, and the lovely bast fibres of linen.

You spinners are in luck! We've got some great new things on the site for you. We know you've been waiting for Silk Mawatas (silk hankies), and now we've got them. You can spin right from these. They're also wonderful for nuno felting. And they dye gloriously (we have some in the studio shop).

We've also got the spinning version of the yummy Silk Linen yarn at the top of this post. This silk linen fibre combines the lustre of silk with the slight crispness and "tooth" of linen. So lovely.

This is so much fun we can hardly stand it! It looks like a box of silky cinnamon buns! They're actually sample boxes of silk spinning fibre. There are 2 versions, each with a different selection of silks. Such a great way to try out some different silks and silk blends. Also wonderful for felting, need I say?

And finally, this beautiful tussah silk. We call it "Highlights" because it has a range of tones from golden to soft brown along its length. Very fine. Very beautiful.

Check them all out! We also want to remind you that the Canadian dollar is in shrinking mode right now. This is especially good news for our American friends. When you buy, it's like getting an additional 20% off when your credit card sale goes through! And for our Canadian friends, remember when you're comparing prices that American prices are about 20% higher when you convert to Canadian bucks. Such is the way of global economics...

Monday, 9 March 2015

Mexican Silk

We tend not to think of Mexico when we think of where in the world silk comes from. But in many ways, it's an ideal place to raise silk. Typically the indigenous weavers have woven their work largely from either cotton or wool, using the silk as inlays for the decorative bits.

During a recent trip to Teotitlan, in the state of Oaxaca, I managed to track down a man who has a very small scale sericulture endeavour. He raises the silk worms, and then his wife handspins the silk into this spectacular, lumpy yarn. His production is so limited that he looked completely baffled when I asked if I could purchase a small amount. This spool was hand-wound, and the man and his son had to put their heads together to figure out what to charge me. Oh my, how dear is that?
Here are 2 images. One is of a traveler spinning some of this precious silk; the other is of the local lady doing same. Can you tell which is which? Who has the better technique? Or posture, for that matter???

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

S A L E ! ! !

Sanjo Silk is having a sale. What a great way to start 2015! We've taken inventory, and some of these gorgeous yarns just have to go. It's a personal shopping experience, so come on down to see us at the Silk Weaving Studio on Granville Island in Vancouver. We're open every day from 10 'til 5.