Silk is one of the most beautiful textile fibers and is even considered the queen of textiles. Have you ever wondered how is silk made? It actually comes from the cocoon of the silk worm. Making silk fabric demands great deal of handling and processing. This is one of the reasons why it is also one of the most expensive fibers.
The leading producer of silk in the world today is China followed by other countries Italy, Japan and India.
Sericulture is the term used to describe the production of cocoon for the filament. The workm species are cultivated and raised under ascertained condition of the nutrition and environment. The silk worm’s life cycle starts from its egg, the silk worm, pupa and then the moth. The silk worm feeding on the mulberry leaves form the covering around it by secreting a substance through its head that appears like protein.
The cocoons are raised by farmers and they are delivered to the factory manufacturer where silk fabric is made. The filature operations are where silk is unwound from cocoons and its strands are collected into the skeins. There are some cocoons that are bred scientifically in the factories. The process of filature is consists of the stages that follow:
• Sorting the cocoons – Cocoons are categorized according to their size, shape, texture and color for these factors affects the final silk quality. The common colors of cocoons are yellow, white and gray.
• Sericin softening – The Silk filament is repeated strand of fibroin that is helped together by a gummy substance also known as silk gum or sericin. After sorting the cocoon, they go through series of cold and hot immersions because the sericin is required to be softened to allow the filament unwinding as a continuous thread.
• Filament reeling – Reeling is the process of unwinding the filaments of the silk from the cocoon, combining it together to produce the raw silk thread. Because of its too fine filament, it is important to reel three to ten strands to produce the desired diameter of the raw silk also known as reeled silk.
• Bailing – The silk filament is then reeled in skeins and they are packed in small bundles called books. The books are placed into bales and that weight around 60 kg. The form of raw silk is shipped to the silk mills from different areas of the world.
This is the complex process involved in making silk fiber. It is not something you can do at home but now that you know how is silk made, you probably know now why they are more expensive than other fibers.