How to knit with silk yarns: 3 top tips

Martingale's Knit and Crochet Friday


Silk: prized for its durability, strength, warmth, and delicacy—as well as its ability to take color beautifully. Knitting with silk yarns can be a challenge, but don’t let it scare you! With the proper instruction and a few expert tips, you can begin stitching gorgeous silk-yarn knitting patterns.

3 Top Tips for Knitting with Silk Yarns

From Silk Knits by Elaine Eskesen

From Silk Knits> Tip 1: Prevent Snags While Stitching

Silk is very strong yet can be fragile. If your hands are rough from gardening, put on non-greasy lotion before you sit down to knit. Silk will snag on anything, and your hands are likely candidates.

> Tip 2: Watch Your Tension

I notice while knitting with 100% silk that my hands cramp up after an hour or so. Silk is slippery and it’s easy to put more tension in the workings of those stitches, even without realizing it. So I’ll often shake out my hands and stop knitting for a minute to get out the tension.

> Tip 3: Protect the Fibers

Handle silk carefully. Keep it protected from everyday life. Silk can pill easily, so avoid excess handling or fussing with it. I keep the silk ball I’m knitting in a canvas bag to protect it from life’s happenings.

Silk KnitsFind more tips for working with silk yarn + 20 specifically-for-silk designs in Silk Knits by Elaine Eskesen, now available as an eBook at


Do you prefer natural or synthetic fibers? Tell us in the comments.

10 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I prefer to work with natural fibers. My stash is full of mostly silk and cotton yarns. I absolutely love working with silk, though I mostly crochet.

    —Jolene on August 29, 2014
  • I’ve only knit with silk once but loved it so much that I reknit that scarf 3 times because it was so lovely to handle. So I guess you could say that I’ve knit with silk 4 times total! What a delight!

    dorothy on August 29, 2014
  • I prefer natural fibers. I know I need something with man-mades added when knitting for babies and children as their things need to be washable, but I prefer the feeling of naturals on my skin most of the time.

    —Judi on August 29, 2014
  • For years synthetic was just about the only fiber available locally and I was happy enough with it. It is machine washable, which may be it’s biggest selling point. But now that I’ve been using natural fibers I prefer them to synthetic. They’re soft and comfortable. Synthetic just feels rough and scratchy anymore. I recently made a baby blanket out of some old yarn and I wouldn’t even want to wrap a baby up in it.

    —Martha on August 29, 2014
  • I much prefer to work with natural fibers/yarn.
    The texture, drape, and wear.
    Wool is fire retarent. Natural fibers won’t melt if exposed to high heat.

    —Paulette on August 29, 2014
  • I didn’t realize how much I like natural fibers until I used a man-made yarn. The man-made was supposedly soft but I couldn’t knit for very long with it. There are so many more natural fibers that are available as yarns,
    nowadays, that I don’t need to use the polyesters at all.

    —Joan T. on August 30, 2014
  • I have always much prefered natural fibers – more comfortable to we.

    —Carole-Jayne on May 29, 2015
  • Wool is so itchy and makes my skin red – I’ve always loved working with acrylic or cotton. But now I’m branching out and want to try working with silk. Thanks for the tips!

    —Shadow on July 2, 2015
  • A few years ago I attended a course in Sung embroidery. Until that momnt I believed that my hands were ‘smooth’. There it became clear that the silk yarn caught on everything. My skin, my nails. It was a disaster. One of my costudents had obtained very fine nail file. When I say fine than I mean very fine (like fines 3000 and higher). During the course I used hers on a regular basis. Later on I obtained on myself. They are available and there price doesn’t break the bank. With them life becomes a lot easyer. When using silk to knit I would walk the same road.

    —Johan Terlouw on June 2, 2016
  • My partner has been knitting with silk for over 20years making all sorts of items, dresses, shirts, scarves and shawls. On standard needles he may have up to 400 stitches pending on the item he is making. Recently he has been making shawls (180 cmby 90 cm) using up to 10 strands of yarn for each stitch and by varying the individual yarn colours can gradually change the shade of the finished piece. After ironing the shine and smooth finish is beautiful. Many of the shawls he has made have been given as gifts to royalty and other heads of state. It’s a shame I can’t put an image here.

    —Brian on October 24, 2019

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