Smarming Silk

Oh, the thrill of the chase, the exhilaration of finding something that shifts connections between man and nature. The more I read about silk, the greater my appreciation of man’s drive to create beauty and of nature’s generosity in providing it.

Over the past couple of days I have been reading about silk, about its history over 5000 years, about the industries built around it while Sharon has been cataloguing and processing silk we received from our supplier in India. Love the story … here’s some trivia:

  • Bombyx Mori, the silkworm responsible for Mulberry Silk feeds exclusively on leaves of the mulberry tree and is, after centuries of being bred only indoors on silk production farms, no longer found in the wild. The Bombyx Mori larvae are completely dependent on humans. They cannot see nor can they fly. Ravenous mulberry silk larvae must be fed by their human keepers continuously every 30 minutes, 24 hours each day as they grow and as they build their cocoons.
  • Within 6 weeks, a silkworm larvae increases its mass 10 000 times. Good thing they do not live a long time!
  • Silkworms can produce 15 metres of silk in one minute.
  • One half kilogram of silk uses 2000 – 3000 silk cocoons, with 1600 km of silk filament. This is only enough silk to create one kimono.
  • For centuries, silk was reserved for the exclusive use by Chinese emperors.  Any attempt to smuggle or divulge the secrets of silk was punishable by death.
  • Legends abound to explain the spread of silk’s secrets to other lands. One tells of a Chinese princess smuggling cocoons in her elaborate hairdo as she fled China with a foreign prince she had married. Another tells of a couple of monks who hid cocoons in hollow walking staffs to take to Byzantine Emperor Justinian 1500 years ago.See more fascinating trivia about silk on our website.

About Chaotic Fibres

Chaotic Fibres offers many varieties of wool, silks and specialty fibres to felters, spinners and other fibre artisans from around the world as well as from around our local Vancouver Island. See our online store for quality, natural fibres.
This entry was posted in BC, News from Chaotic Fibres, Victoria and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Smarming Silk

  1. Margie Humphreys says:

    Thanks for the interesting facts about the silkworm, Dave. We saw silk being produced from the way you described in Indonesia. It was fascinating. Apparently silk fibre is incredibly strong.

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    • Stronger than steel, which puts it in amazing perspective. Impressive tribute to the creativity and perseverance people have shown over thousands of years and a good reason to never take simple things we have for granted! Thanks, Margie!

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  2. Glad you enjoyed, Ilene. Thanks for following the commentary!

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