A week ago, we went to the silk farm in Chiang Mai, Thailand to learn more about the process of silk making or also known as sericulture and silk weaving. It was an eye opening experience as we get to see so many live silk worms crawling around spinning cocoons. We've purchased a few silk scarves hand-woven by the ladies from the pictures above. Check out our shop to see what we've got :)
Here is a little introduction about silk and it's history. *thanks google ;)*
Silk has set the standard in luxury fabrics for several millennia. The origins of silk date back to Ancient China. Legend has it that a Chinese princess was sipping tea in her garden when a cocoon fell into her cup, and the hot tea loosened the long strand of silk. Ancient literature, however, attributes the popularization of silk to the Chinese Empress Si-Ling, to around 2600 B.C. Called the Goddess of the Silkworm, Si-Ling apparently raised silkworms and designed a loom for making silk fabrics.
The Chinese used silk fabrics for arts and decorations as well as for clothing. Silk became an integral part of the Chinese economy and an important means of exchange for trading with neighbouring countries. Caravans traded the prized silk fabrics along the famed Silk Road into the Near East. By the fourth century B.C. , Alexander the Great is said to have introduced silk to Europe. The popularity of silk was influenced by Christian prelates who donned the rich fabrics and adorned their altars with them. Gradually the nobility began to have their own clothing fashioned from silk fabrics as well.
Initially, the Chinese were highly protective of their secret to making silk. Indeed, the reigning powers decreed death by torture to anyone who divulged the secret of the silk-worm. Eventually, the mystery of the silk-making process was smuggled into neighbouring regions, reaching Japan about A.D. 300 and India around A.D. 400. By the eighth century, Spain began producing silk, and 400 years later Italy became quite successful at making silk, with several towns giving their names to particular types of silk.
Silk is highly valued because it possesses many excellent properties. Not only does it look lustrous and feel luxurious, but it is also lightweight, resilient, and extremely strong—one filament of silk is stronger then a comparable filament of steel! Although fabric manufacturers have created less costly alternatives to silk, such as nylon and polyester, silk is still in a class by itself.
The secret to silk production is the tiny creature known as the silkworm, which is the caterpillar of the silk moth Bombyx mori. It feeds solely on the leaves of mulberry trees.
The life cycle of the Bombyx mori begins with eggs laid by the adult moth. The larvae emerge from the eggs and feed on mulberry leaves. In the larval stage, the Bombyx is the caterpillar known as the silkworm. The silkworm spins a protective cocoon around itself so it can safely transform into a chrysalis. In nature, the chrysalis breaks through the cocoon and emerges as a moth. The moths mate and the female lays 300 to 400 eggs. A few days after emerging from the cocoon, the moths die and the life cycle continues.
Generally, one cocoon produces between 1,000 and 2,000 feet of silk filament, made essentially of two elements. The fiber, called fibroin, makes up between 75 and 90%, and sericin, the gum secreted by the caterpillar to glue the fiber into a cocoon, comprises about 10-25% of silk. Other elements include fats, salts, and wax. To make one yard of silk material, about 3,000 cocoons are used.
Sericulture - The cultivation of silkworms for the purpose of producing silk.
Feeding the larva
Spinning the cocoon
Stoving the chrysalis
The Filature Sorting and softening the cocoons
Reeling the filament
Packaging the skeins
Forming silk yarn
Degumming thrown yarn
Finishing silk fabrics
Adapted from : MadeHow.com