Each year I buy silk cocoons to give to 'children of all ages' when showing and talking about silk and silkworms. Occasionally I make use of them myself in my craft work.
The silk can be reeled from the cocoons for spinning into yarn once the end, actually the beginning, of the fibre is found. The silk can also be 'harvested' another way. That is by making silk hankies. Here is a number of such silk hankies bought from a supplier.
This picture shows hankies that I have made recently in my endeavours to find the most efficient way to make these Mawatas (Japanese for stretched cocoons)and a quantities of ingredients for the softening/degumming solution.
The cocoons in this picture are little use for mawatas, they are 'spent', that is the moth has hatched and there is a hole in the cocoon, made by the moth on hatching. This may have caused the fibre to be broken. I may well try some in my experiments.
Spent cocoons are not used in the reeling process because of the collar of built up fibres and 'glue' (serecin, the gum produced by the silkworm to bind the cocoon fibre together). This could cause the fibre to break at the collar and make the process less efficient, but, as I am going to dissolve the gum, I may be able to produce adequate hankies.
Once my experimentation has produced enough hankies I propose to spin them into yarn. I may even dye the hankies before spinning the fibre.
Watch this space!