Jadee-- What you purchased is a silk cap. Like silk hankies they are made from whole cocoons. You can knit directly from the silk or spin it. Search silk hankies on YouTube for several great videos. I believe the prep is the same for caps as for hankies, the only difference being that caps seem to be bigger. Can't wait to see what you make with it!
Prayers go out to your mom! One day I'm going to Plurk! Still trying to figure it out! LOL!