When you pull the layers apart it looks like this. This is probably 3 or 4 layers of silk cocoons.
This is what a single layer looks like. It is much easier working with a single layer if you would like a finer yarn. Though it does start out fairly thick, so don't worry you can still get a medium weight yarn this way too.
Next put your fingers through the center of the hanky and pull out until your hands can fit through the center. Continue pulling, making sure to rotate the hanky from time to time to get it as even as possible. The fiber will end up thick and thin in the end, but you still want it as even as possible.
Eventually your hanky will start to look like this. You can go through and tug on areas that are thicker to thin even them out with the rest of the fiber.
If you want to know how thick your fiber is use a Wraps Per Inch (wpi) tool, or if you don't have one, try a ruler. Wrap the fiber around evenly, not too loose, not too tight for at least 2 inches, then divide by 2 to get the wraps per inch. The wraps should lie right next to one another, not scrunched together or with big gaps in between. To figure out what your wpi means I found a chart on Ravelry, or basically:
5 to 6 wpi = Super Bulky
7 = Bulky
8 = Aran
9 = Worsted
11 = DK
12 = Sport
14 = Fingering
16+ = Lace
This is the end of the tutorial. Next time I'll show you the project I knit out of my silk hankies!
I will have the finished project as well as all of the hankies, while they last, at Black Sheep this weekend! We will be in room 3, booth #39, on the same row as Blue Moon and Dicentra. Make sure to stop by and check them out!