Silk Facts and Trivia

Such an amazing fibre and such a fascinating and impressive history. Here’s some trivia to inspire a better appreciation of SILK!

  • Silk is produced by a variety of moth larvae including the Bombyx Mori, a silkworm that 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.
  • Mulberry Silk is the softest and most valuable silk.
  • Tussah moths and other moth larvae, which feed on a variety of leaves, are also valued for their cocoons and the silk they render.
  • The female silkworm deposits between 400 – 500 eggs, which become the larvae, at a time.
  • Silk was so highly protected as a special fibre for Chinese emperors that any attempt to smuggle or divulge the secrets of silk was punishable by death.
  • A silkworm produces 15 metres of silk in one minute.mulberry silkworm and cocoons Chaotic Fibres online store
  • It takes 205 kg (450 pounds) of cocoons to produce 38 kg (85 pounds) of raw silk. For mulberry silk, this would involve harvesting leaves from 1 hectare (2.4 acres) mulberry trees. These larvae are ravenous and must be fed by their human keepers continuously every 30 minutes, 24 hours each day. Now, a little respect for mulberry silk, please!
  • Within 6 weeks, a silkworm larvae increases its mass 10 000 times.
  • A silk cocoon can give up to 1 km (2/3 mile) of silk fibre. So, sherpas would only need 9 cocoons to stretch from the base of Mt. Everest to the very top!
  • 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.
  • Silk has a triangular structure that causes light to refract giving a lustrous, shimmery appearance.
  • With its compact structure, silk can absorb one third of its own weight in moisture without feeling damp. This makes it a wonderful fibre to use for sleepwear.
  • For all its softness and wonderful feel, silk is nature’s strongest natural fibre, even stronger than steel in its tensile strength.
  • Silk’s strength, versatility and other pristine qualities is shown in its use for parachutes, surgical sutures, prosthetic arteries, rugs that outlast so many other fibres and more.
  • China still rules silk production, holding 80% while India carries much of the balance.
  • 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.

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