Top Tips for Knitting with Silk Yarns

Does your sari yarn smell? If it's a strong mildew smell, this can be because the sari yarn was produced and stored during a rainy season in India, creating some bacterial smell in the yarn. If you can smell an earthy, musky smell (like patchouli, but not as strong as the bacterial smell) this can be attributed to the natural smell of silk. Many shops sell sari yarn which doesn't smell and comes at a higher price - because they've washed it. You can save a few $$$ and hand wash sari yarn yourself at home.


  1. Undo the hank so it is a loose loop of thread. This requires a lot of patience!.
  2. Hand wash in dishwashing liquid and cold water, taking care not to scrub too hard and create knotted fibers.
  3. If the smell is strong and bacterial, skip Step 2 and soak the yarn for an hour in a bucket of cold water with a few drops of eucalypts oil (not recommended for sari ribbon as the eucalyptus will stain the ribbon colors).
  4. Put the sari yarn into a pillowcase or bra bag and tie up the top. Wash in the washing machine on a cold setting. Add fabric softener if you'd like to soften the yarn.
  5. Remove from bag and let yarn dry naturally.
  6. Roll the sari yarn into a ball, ready for use.

Generally, for a higher price, you can get ready-to-use sari yarn which is prewashed, softened and rolled into a ball.

If your sari yarn smells like patchouli and doesn't seem to be bacterial, you don't even need to wash the yarn - you can use it straight after rolling it. This brilliantly colored recycled silk sari yarn crocheted belt made by an Etsy crafter brightens up a winter outfit well.