As you will know, if you follow my blog, I LOVE SILK! Not just the finished silk fabric, but the raw silk yarns & fibres, and the cheaper bits like cocoon strippings and throwsters waste. You can find some pictures of these in a previous post – and if you go to my etsy shop or julz craft supplies on ebay, you will find most of these, and other items on sale!
I came across this post about how silk worms make silk, with amazing pictures of the silk worms and their progress – it comes from Dona at Creative Country Life and you can find the original HERE. Dona has kindly given me permission to copy this for you.
I am planning a series of ‘tutorials’ about using some of these, especially to make your own SILK PAPER but I thought you really must see this post first – it contains an explanation of how silk ‘hankies’ are made.
Raising Silk Worms!
They say that interesting people have interesting friends. I must be pretty interesting, if you go by that!
Take a look at what one of my friends has been up to!
She’s been raising Silk Worms! I’m so jealous…
Now mind you this is not a large scale adventure. She just wants enough silk to make some Hankies for spinning. A Hankie is the form silk is generally accepted in for Hand Spinning into yarn.
The problem is, even at a small scale, they go through a tremendous amount of Mulberry Leaves each day.
Handfuls and handfuls of fresh Mulberry Leaves EVERY day. Naturally it is important to have easy access to a tree. And of course what goes in, must come out… So they need to be cleaned as well.
The commitment is not a very long one. Only about 5-7 weeks. Before long they will begin to spin. Simple toilet paper tubes or egg cartons provide the perfect, cozy spot for the worms to spin their cocoons.
One by one at first, then several at a time until everybody is neatly stowed away.
But seriously. How cool is this??
Soon there is nothing left but cocoons.
But then comes D-Day…
The cocoons are… well, roasted in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes. I know, sounds rather harsh after caring for them so carefully. But the thing to remember is that if the moth is allowed to emerge, they are doomed to die shortly after. They do not eat or fly. They simply mate, lay eggs and die. Now that’s harsh!
The next step is to simmer the cocoons in soapy water. This removes all the gummy stuff that holds them together. The carcass must be removed and then the silk is spread out on a frame about the size of a handkerchief (hence the name Hankies).
Then they are ready for spinning or dyeing. I hope to have some photos of that process to share with you soon.
As for me – I need to find a Mulberry Tree!