Silk - Process

History of Silk :
Since the 27 th century B.C., the Chinese have produced and used silk fabric. In fact, raising silk worms was one of the many chores of the farm women in China. From China, silk was exported via the Silk Route.

The Chinese never let out the secret of how the silk was produced. However, in later years, Christian monks smuggled the eggs out of the country; hence introducing silk manufacture in other nations as well.

The Making of Silk Fabric :
The process of making silk is delicate and involves a number of steps.

• The first stage is called sericulture. This is the cultivation of the silk worms. The most popular species for obtaining mulberry silk is Bombyx mori. The worms are raised in a controlled environment and are fed mulberry leaves. The worms form a cocoon around themselves by secreting a protein from the top of their head.

• The farmers collect these cocoons and deliver them to the factory, where they are subject to filature operations.

• The first step is to sort the cocoons according to color, size, shape and texture.

• Then, the cocoons are made to go through a serious of hot and cold immersions. In this way, the sericin (the gummy substance that holds the fibroin strands in the silk filament together) is softened.

• Once this is done, the filament is unwound from the cocoon and combined to produce a thread of raw silk. This is the process of reeling. Usually, three to ten strands are reeled at a time.

• Finally the skeins into which the filament was reeled, are packed into bundles called books which are then put into bales to be exported to the mill.

• In the mill, the silk fiber is woven into silk fabric, using either a hand loom or a power loom.

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