How Silk is Made

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How Silk is Made

Silk is made from the fine woven filaments of cocoons of silkworms. There are almost 70 species of silk moths. The most famous is the Bombyx mori.

The caterpillar is among these famous silkworms. It is said to produce the best and high quality silk. It is about three times heavier than the ordinary specie of silkworm.

Silk production is also called Sericulture. It was discovered in China in 3000BC. It is credited to the wife of the mythical Yellow Emperor, Lady Hsi-Ling-Shih.

The Lady was sitting under a mulberry tree one afternoon when the cocoon of a silkworm suddenly fell on her cup of tea. She discovered a fine strand of silk while she was removing the cocoon.

She later used the fabric for imperial clothes. For centuries it was a well kept secret of China. It was later on when the intricate and delicate process was revealed to the rest of the world.

Producing silk requires extensive process and constant watch. Silkworm breeders put a lot of effort into the diet. They also keep the temperature of silkworms. This is to ensure they produce healthy and high quality silkworms.

Silkworms are first fed hand-picked and chopped mulberry leaves. They are fed until the silkworms reach their desired weight. This is about 10,000 times more than when they hatched.

They are ready to build and enter their cocoon stage once they are fed and saved enough energy. Their silk glands form a gel like substance. They wrap this around themselves. This will harden once it comes into contact with air.

The slightest noise or strong smell may interrupt the worms from their spinning. It can also affect the quality of cocoon they will produce.

The silkworm spends almost three to four days spinning. They then spend another eight to nine days before they are ready to be unwound. Other breeders steam or bake the cocoons to kill the chrysalis.

Chrysalises are the worms inside the cocoon. Steaming or baking them will prevent them from breaking out. This would keep the precious cocoons intact.

The cocoons are dipped into hot water to loosen the tightly woven filaments. These filaments can extend to as long as 600 to 900 meters. They are very thin and fine.

These filaments are then woven and twisted into different kinds of silk threads. There are different known types of woven silk fabrics. Each type would depend on the number of filaments used for the silk thread. The width of each filament, the way each filament is looped and twisted into the silk thread are also considere