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Silk Stockings

 

Production of Silk
LIFE OF THE SILK WORM
The production of silk is a lengthy process, from the birth of the silk worm to the retrieval of the silk from the cocoon. 


The text  below gives a brief insight as to what is a basic example of how silk is produced to enable the 
manufacturing the stunning pure silk stockings.


The "Bombyx Mori" is the species of silk worm which produces the majority of silk for knitting and weaving. It is 
the white Mulberry which provides the silk worm the raw material in which to produce the silk. When the mulberry
 begins to bud, the eggs of last years silk moths, which have been hibernated during the winter months are brought
 into the mulberry districts and  slowly warmed. Warming is often achieved by ladies carrying small packets of eggs 
about their persons, but a stove lamp is  often used as a modern alternative. A graduate advance in temperature 
from 10 to 24C over a period of 10 to 14 days is required to effect a uniform hatching. The eggs are little larger 
than a pin head when the caterpillar emerges, but feeding constantly on the mulberry leaf, it out grows its skin 4 times
 in as many weeks. After the fourth and last molt, the worm continues to eat and becomes quite ugly and fat 
between 7 and 10 centimeters long. In this last stage it will actually consume about 4 times the weight of leaf he has consumed to date, so some 36000 worms hatched from an ounce of eggs, which should eventually produce at
 least 5.5Kg of raw silk and eat as much as a ton of foliage, one acre may produce 3 to 4 tons of leaf for a 
return of 22.5Kg of raw silk. When the worm stops eating, it looks for a location to build it's cocoon, twigs or 
straw are provided and soon he will begin to produce a filament silk in to a cocoon, working until he is wrapped 
inside, to later emerge as a moth. To produce silk, this process has to be interrupted, as the birth of a moth 
causes destruction of the cocoon, as it secretes brown gum to dissolve the cocoon. So before the emergence 
of the moth the chrysalis is put to sleep by exposure to the sun, or hot air, but this process makes it increasingly 
difficult to unwind the cocoon filament in the process known as reeling.
REELING
Through two glands in it's head the silk worm emits the filament silk know as a "bave" the reeling process consists in finding the end of this bave, unraveling it and winding it in to a hank. Raw silk is quite a gummy/sticky substance, so before separating the filaments the cocoons must be softened by immersion in hot water to loosen the gum. The cocoons are placed together in a basin of near boiling water, which starts to dissolve the gum,
once the gum is dissolving the cocoon filaments adhere to a small brush or rod which rotates the water. The outside layer of the cocoon is thrown away as imperfect after sticking to the rod, these discarded portions are known as "knubbs". Now the cocoons are ready for reeling, the size or denier of a single cocoon being too fine to be of any commercial use, it must be decided how many cocoons need to be reeled to make one single yarn. When these filaments are boiled and reeled together in one single process the naked eye will not be able to determine that this single thread is actually made of many filaments. To ensure uniformity, the threads are run through a systems of pulleys  to make for example a yarn of 3 denier, 7 cocoons are run through the reeling system at once.
Article Copyright 2002 Belle Hosiery