The Silk Story - Part I
How silk is made ?
Silk is a natural fiber that is produced by silkworms, which are the larval stage of the silk moth. The process of making silk begins with the cultivation of silkworms.
- Cultivating Silkworms: Silk farmers cultivate silkworms by feeding them mulberry leaves. The silkworms spin cocoons around themselves to protect themselves during the metamorphosis process.
- Harvesting Cocoons: Once the cocoons are formed, they are carefully harvested by hand to prevent damage to the silk threads. The cocoons are then sorted by quality and color.
Removing the Silk: To extract the silk from the cocoons, they are boiled or steamed to kill the silkworms inside. The heat also softens the silk glue that holds the cocoon together, making it easier to unravel the silk thread. The silk thread is then carefully unwound from the cocoon using a spindle or a machine.
Cleaning and Processing: The silk threads are then washed to remove any impurities and dried in the sun or on a drying rack. The threads are then twisted together to create a stronger, more durable thread that can be woven into fabrics.
- Weaving into Fabric: The silk threads are woven into fabric on a loom. Different weaving techniques can produce different types of silk fabrics, such as satin, chiffon, or crepe. The finished silk fabric is then dyed or printed with patterns and designs.
Silk production is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, which is why silk is considered a luxury fabric. Today, most silk is produced in China, but other countries like India, Japan, and Italy also have a long history of silk production.
How to look after your silk scarves ?
Silk scarves are luxurious accessories that can add style and elegance to any outfit. To keep your silk scarves looking their best, here are some tips on how to take care of them:
Hand wash or dry clean: Silk is a delicate fabric, so it's best to either hand wash your silk scarves or take them to a professional dry cleaner. If you decide to hand wash your silk scarf, use a mild detergent and cool water. Gently swirl the scarf in the water, but avoid rubbing or twisting it, as this can damage the fabric. Rinse thoroughly in cool water, and then gently squeeze out any excess water.
Air dry: After washing, lay the silk scarf flat on a clean towel and roll it up to remove excess water. Then, hang the scarf up to air dry. Avoid hanging the scarf in direct sunlight, as this can cause the colors to fade.
Iron on low heat: If your silk scarf is wrinkled, you can iron it on a low heat setting. Make sure to use a pressing cloth to protect the fabric from the heat of the iron. You can also use a steamer to remove wrinkles.
Store carefully: When not in use, store your silk scarf in a cool, dry place. Avoid folding or hanging the scarf in direct sunlight, as this can cause the colors to fade over time. You can also store your silk scarf in a protective bag to keep it clean and prevent it from getting snagged or damaged.
By following these simple tips, you can keep your silk scarves looking beautiful and stylish for years to come.
Lets check some of our silk scarf collections here
Properties of natural silk fabric
Silk is a natural protein fibre that is produced by silkworms and has many unique properties, including:
Softness and Smoothness: Silk is known for its soft and smooth texture, which makes it comfortable to wear and touch.
Lustre: Silk has a natural sheen or lustre that gives it a luxurious appearance.
Breathability: Silk is a breathable fabric that allows air to circulate, which makes it comfortable to wear in both hot and cold weather.
Moisture Absorption: Silk can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp, which makes it comfortable to wear for long periods.
Lightweight: Silk is a lightweight fabric, which makes it easy to wear and drape.
Durability: Silk is a strong and durable fabric that can withstand wear and tear.
Hypoallergenic: Silk is a hypoallergenic material that is less likely to cause skin irritation than other fabrics.
Thermal Insulation: Silk has natural thermal insulation properties that help to regulate body temperature and keep you warm in cold weather.
Overall, silk is a versatile and luxurious fabric that has many unique properties that make it ideal for use in clothing, textiles, and other applications.
How to determine silk quality?
The quality of silk can be evaluated based on various scientific parameters such as:
Fibre diameter: The fineness of the silk fibre is an important indicator of quality. Silk fibres with a smaller diameter are considered to be of higher quality as they are smoother and more lustrous.
Tensile strength: Silk has high tensile strength, which is important for the durability of the fabric. The strength of the silk can be measured using a tensile testing machine.
Uniformity of fibre: The uniformity of the silk fibre is another factor that affects the quality of the fabric. A higher level of uniformity indicates that the fabric will be more even and consistent.
Colour fastness: The colour fastness of the silk fabric is important to ensure that it does not fade or lose its colour over time. This can be evaluated through a colour fastness test.
Purity: The purity of the silk fabric can be determined using various chemical tests. The presence of impurities or other fibres in the fabric can affect its quality.
Weave quality: The quality of the silk fabric can also be evaluated based on the weave pattern, which affects the texture and feel of the fabric.
Overall, the quality of silk can be evaluated using a combination of scientific tests and visual inspection to ensure that it meets the desired standards for use in clothing, textiles, and other applications.
Types of silks
There are many different types of silk, each with their own unique qualities. Here are some of the most common types of silk:
Mulberry silk: This is the most common type of silk and is produced by the silkworms that feed on the leaves of the mulberry tree. It is known for its softness, durability, and lustre.
Tussar silk: Also known as "wild silk", this type of silk is produced by the larvae of wild silk moths that feed on a variety of leaves. It is coarser than mulberry silk and has a natural dull golden colour.
Eri silk: This is another type of wild silk that is produced by the Eri silkworm. It is often called "peace silk" because the process of harvesting the silk allows the silkworm to complete its life cycle.
Muga silk: This is a rare and expensive silk that is produced by the larvae of the Muga moth. It is known for its natural golden colour and durability.
Spider silk: This is a highly valued silk that is produced by spiders. It is known for its strength and elasticity, but it is difficult to harvest on a large scale.
These are just a few examples of the many different types of silk available. Each type of silk has its own unique properties and is used for a variety of purposes, including clothing, upholstery, and other decorative items.
Other familiar silk names that are used in the silk industry
There are several other names and types of silks that are used in the textile industry. Here are some of them:
Charmeuse: A lightweight, glossy silk fabric with a satin weave that gives it a shiny finish.
Chiffon: A sheer, lightweight fabric made of fine silk threads. It has a slightly rough texture and is often used for women's clothing.
Crepe de Chine: A lightweight, slightly textured silk fabric that drapes well and has a matte finish.
Dupioni: A rough, irregular silk fabric with a slubbed texture. It is often used for bridal gowns and other formalwear.
Habotai: A soft, lightweight silk fabric that is often used for linings or as a base for other fabrics.
Organza: A sheer, lightweight silk fabric with a stiff texture. It is often used for bridal gowns and other formalwear.
Raw silk: A silk fabric that has not been treated or processed after being harvested from the silkworm cocoon. It has a slightly rough texture and a natural sheen.
Satin: A glossy silk fabric with a smooth, shiny surface. It is often used for formalwear and lingerie.
These are just a few examples of the many types of silk fabrics available, each with its own unique properties and uses.
How to dye your silk fabrics at home?
Dyeing silk is a delicate process that requires some care and attention to detail in order to achieve the desired result. Here are the general steps for dyeing silk:
Prepare the silk: Wash the silk in warm water and a mild detergent to remove any dirt or residue. Rinse the fabric thoroughly and hang it to dry.
Choose the dye: Select a dye that is suitable for silk fabric. Fabric dyes are available in a range of colours and can be found at most craft or fabric stores.
Mix the dye: Follow the instructions on the dye package to mix the dye solution. Be sure to mix the dye thoroughly to ensure even colour distribution.
Soak the fabric: Immerse the silk fabric in the dye solution, making sure that it is completely covered. Gently stir the fabric to ensure that the dye is distributed evenly.
Rinse the fabric: After the desired colour has been achieved, remove the fabric from the dye solution and rinse it thoroughly with cool water until the water runs clear.
Set the dye: To ensure that the colour is permanent, it is important to set the dye. Follow the instructions on the dye package for the best method of setting the dye, which may involve heat or chemicals.
Dry the fabric: Hang the silk fabric to dry in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat.
These are the general steps for dyeing silk. However, it's important to note that the specific dyeing process may vary depending on the type of dye used and the desired result. Always read the instructions on the dye package carefully and follow them closely for the best results.
How to Tie-dye your silk fabric
Tie-dye is a method of dyeing fabric in which sections of the fabric are bound or twisted to create a pattern, then dyed in one or more colours to create a unique design. The resulting pattern is typically a series of circles, spirals, or stripes, depending on the method used.
The process of tie-dyeing involves twisting or tying off sections of the fabric with rubber bands, string, or other materials to create areas of the fabric that resist dye penetration. The fabric is then immersed in a dye bath, and the dye is absorbed into the fabric except in the tied-off sections. Once the dyeing is complete, the fabric is rinsed in cold water to remove any excess dye and then washed and dried.
Tie-dyeing can be done using a variety of dyes, including natural dyes, fiber-reactive dyes, and acid dyes. The type of dye used will affect the final result, as well as the colourfastness of the fabric.
Tie-dyeing is a popular craft that has been around for decades and is often associated with the counterculture and hippie movements of the 1960s and 70s. Today, tie-dyeing remains a popular craft, and tie-dyed fabrics can be found in a wide range of garments and accessories, from t-shirts and dresses to bags and home decor items.
Lets check some of our silk scarf collections here
The Oldest silk producer
China is believed to be the oldest silk maker in the world, with a history of silk production that dates back thousands of years. Legend has it that silk was first discovered in China by the wife of the Yellow Emperor, who was said to have observed silkworms spinning cocoons while sipping tea under a mulberry tree. Since then, the Chinese have been refining their silk-making techniques and exporting silk to other parts of the world.
The ancient Chinese method of silk production involved raising silkworms, which would spin cocoons made of a single long filament of silk. The cocoons were then boiled, which killed the silkworms and softened the cocoons, making it easier to unravel the silk filaments. The resulting silk threads were then woven into fabrics, which were highly prized for their softness, lustre, and durability.
Silk production was a closely guarded secret in ancient China, and the export of silk was strictly controlled. However, over time, the Chinese began to trade silk with other countries along the Silk Road, a network of trade routes that connected China with the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. Today, China remains the largest producer of silk in the world, with many of the ancient silk-making techniques still in use.
-------continued on Part II