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Gima Tape and Plied Silk

Gima Tape and Plied Silk

Gima Silk Tape, also known as Straw Silk, and Mulberry Plied Silk Yarn are each unique in their own rights and are the perfect addition for just about any fiber art such as: tapestry weaving, needlepoint, embroidery, kumohimo, knitting and crochet.

Until a couple of years ago I had never heard of Gima Silk Tape (aka Straw silk in the needlepoint world). When I discovered it I was smitten. At Mirrix, we have been hand painting Mulberry silk that is made up of spun silk that is plied. It is about the size of #5 perle cotton. It has amazing luster and strength and just sucks up that dye perfectly. The silk we have painted in the past and now is the silk they use for hand-knotted rugs among other things. It has to be sturdy to withstand the rigors of feet and shoes.  But it also is gorgeous with an unbeatable glow that never ceases to amaze me. But I like a little adventure in my life so stumbling across this Gima silk was quite the find. It is different enough from the original silk to keep my imagination flowing. And it better flow becasue after a week of deep dive internet research I finally found the company that manufacturers it. Unfortunately, it seems like they have discountinued it so I did what anyone would do, I bought every last single cone. No worries though, it will take me a few years to paint that silk and the huge hoarded stash of the original silk yarn. We are stocked.

Side note here: when I love a fiber I think our customers will also love, I do tend to buy whatever there is especially if it is going out of print. That was what I did with the gold thread. I was sure I would die with cones of it in the big fiber trunk. I just discovered we are down to only a few cones of gold thread (orignal use was for embroidering kimonos) and this stuff hasn’t been made since the 70s and apparently Mirrix hoarded the last supply of it. Hence, I am going to countinue to follow my instincts and if I love something that much, I will come and get it!

Below is a photo of recently hand-painted Gima Silk Tape. Notice how it it looks like ribbon.

There is very little about Gima Silk Tape on the internet. I had only found it retail in small skeins. I wanted it in kilos! I had at one time painted some of this glorious silk for resale. The problem was that the retail cost of the Gima Silk Tape was so high we had to sell it for a lot more than we sold the other Mulberry silk. I say other Mulberry silk because the Gima Tape is also made of Mulberry silk. And what is that you might ask? The silk worms eat only Mulberry leaves. And all I know is Mulberry silk in all its forms is lovely. The silk is reeled for both the Gima Tape and the plied Mulberry silk. This means the silk is removed from the cocoon in one long thread and hence is not spun like many other fibers. The Gima Silk is flat, consisting of about six strands of reeled silk. It sticks together but can be easily separated. The other mulberry silk is plied and the individual reeled strands are difficult to separate. 

Both types of silk can be used for a variety of fiberarts such as: tapestry weaving, mixed  media weaving, kimohimo, embroidery, needlepoint, weft-faced weaving, inkle weaving, crochet and knitting. Anywhere you need a deep glow and gorgeous saturated colors, this silk is your perfect choice.

The below photo is of Gima Silk Tape on top and the Mulberry plied yarn which we have been  hand painting for years. You can see how different they are but you really need to see and touch the silk in person to get the true feeling of why it is so special.

Gima means “like linen.” The Gima Silk Tape does have a linen feel to it. The reeled strands are not plied. Rather they are parallel. I would love to see the process that makes the silk into gima tape but to do that I would have to go to Japan, which wouldn’t be such a bad thing actually. I could visit the Myuki and Toho bead factories. A lot of the materials I love and use seem to come from Japan.

Can you spot the Gima Silk Tape and the Mulberry plied yarn on the bobbins below?


We now have both kinds of silk in the Mirrix store. Check out the Gima silk and all the new colors of our mulberry silk: Mirrix hand-painted silk yarn.