I was prepping a new crochet pattern for the website (keep an eye out — it’s an Edwardian sleeping cap!), and came across the term Silkateen. When one is prepping vintage patterns, one has to be sure that the materials required are still available, or figure out what the comparable modern item might be. This one’s been tough.

Silkateen first was seen in 1897. It was shown at textile shows, and reportedly buyers were surprised at how similar to silk it appeared. The company manufacturing it (Kerr Thread Company) said that they were using techniques to create it that were over 50 years old, but had been lost over the course of time. Those techniques became a trade secret. The company ran night and day, trying to keep up with orders.

Ads are seen for Silkateen into the late 1900s, where it was advertised as both a fabric as well as a crochet thread. It is compared in one article as being comparable to DMC, thought I think they perhaps mean in weight rather than appearance. Silkateen was used for clothing, umbrellas and there were experiments in using it with lawn linen (with mixed results). It is described as a lustrous cotton for crochet, knit and embroidery.

Silkateen obviously had some lasting power in the industry, and though the name changed several times, it was around in different forms for years. Problem is, I still haven’t found what an actual modern substitute might be!


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