How to buy silk fabrics
Material science silk
Bombyx Mori, the mulberry moth, is an inconspicuous butterfly whose caterpillars feed on mulberry leaves.
The caterpillar sheds the silk thread to pupate in it. Day and night it spins a kilometer-long endless thread around itself until it lies in a solid, pigeon egg-sized shell. Before the metamorphosis can be completed by the hatching of the butterfly, the pupa is killed in hot steam. The silk raffia that stuck the delicate cocoon together dissolves in boiling water. The extremely fine, snow-white silk thread can be unreeled.
The Chinese kept the secret of silk production to themselves for millennia. The sericulture was under the protection of the empress, espionage or betrayal of the production method were punishable by the death penalty.
Beyond the Great Wall of China, the prices of silk fabrics were excessive, the most precious even being outweighed in gold. It was only around 1400 years ago that some eggs of the Bombyx Mori butterfly came to Byzantium, smuggled in hollowed-out pilgrim staffs. Mulberry plantations and silkworm breeding emerged around the Mediterranean. The most beautiful silks are still produced in the centers of silk weaving at that time.
Wild silk is produced by different species of wild peacock butterfly, the most famous being the tussah spinner. The wild silk cannot be reeled out, is irregular and thicker than mulberry silk. The putty substance is more difficult to remove, which results in a somewhat rough thread with a grainy handle. The stored color pigments are partially retained and give the wild silk its lively structure and a silvery, sand-colored, brownish or golden shimmer.
The silk fibers are processed depending on their length. The long, reeled fibers are twisted into smooth, shiny yarns and are suitable for the finest fabrics.
Schappseide is made from shorter fibers, for example from hatched cocoons, which are combed and spun. The very short fibers are processed in the bourette spinning mill into somewhat nubby yarns with little sheen. In terms of feel and appearance, the bourette silk is reminiscent of cotton. It is hard-wearing and warms well.
Silk is comfortable to wear on the skin, protects equally well against heat and cold and, like wool, absorbs up to 30% moisture without feeling damp. It hardly creases, is very elastic and tear-resistant. No other material is so flattering and sensual on the skin, the shimmering sheen looks like spun light. Silk protects our nervous system from negative influences. It helps us to stay with ourselves and puts us in a good mood.
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