Interesting Facts About Silk

| 02/01/2017

You know what silk is. It’s that soft, supple fabric that they use to make the expensive ties you buy your dad for Father’s Day. Have you ever wondered why silk is so expensive? What exactly is silk anyway? Find out how silk is produced and some other amazing facts about this natural fibre.

It’s Made From Silkworms

All fabrics fall into two classes based on the kind of fibres used to manufacture them. There are natural fibres and synthetic (manmade) fibres. Silk is a natural fibre like cotton. However, silk doesn’t grow from the ground like cotton does. Silk is made from worms. The silkworm hatches from an egg, grows into a worm, and eventually creates a cocoon before turning into a silk moth. Silkworms secrete a protein fibre from their head to create their cocoon. This happens during their pupating stage. This protein fibre is what farmers harvest and sell to manufacturers who then use the fibre to create textiles—such as silk.

Farmers raise moths for the purpose of repopulating the species. However, most silk moths are harvested during their transformation stage. Once the cocoons are harvested and delivered to fabric manufacturers, they are separated by colour, size, shape, and texture. From there, the filaments in the cocoon are unwound and reeled together. Once the filaments are wound, they are bundled into bales and shipped to silk mills who use looms to weave the silk into fabrics. The sericulture process has not changed for 5,000 years. Harvesting silkworms and sericulture began in China. The Chinese guarded the process of creating silk for over 3,000 years. As a result, silk became one of the most sought-after fabrics throughout the world and remains that way today.

It’s Versatile

Silk is stronger than steel and is one of the softest fibres you’ll ever touch. The fibres that make silk are capable of stretching to nearly double their original size before breaking. Silk glistens in sunlight giving textiles lustre. Similar to cotton, this natural fibre is breathable, making it an ideal fabric for clothing. There are over 8 varieties of silk that clothiers use to makes clothes around the world. However, silk is used for more than clothing.

Engineers use it to create fibre optic cables and biomedical devices. It is even used in the medical industry to create ligaments and to heal wounds. This natural fibre works perfectly when used for medical purposes because the human body accepts it and eventually absorbs and dissolves it. The amazing abilities of silk are still being discovered. Scientist and engineers are currently looking at new ways of using silk for technology, health, and medicine. Imagine the advances we could find using silk over the next 5,000 years.

It Decorates Your House in the Form of Oriental Rugs

Silk is woven and hand-knotted to create traditional Oriental rugs. Weaving silk is an art form that is centuries old. Pure silk carpets and rugs with handwoven motifs continue to capture the imagination and interest of people today. Antique collectors search far and wide to find luxurious carpets and rugs to add to their collection. The fine quality of the silk fibre allows artists to weave intricate patterns and designs. Silk’s strength ensures that rugs and carpets crafted from silk will last for centuries if cared for properly.

Many weavers now use wool to craft oriental rugs. Wool is comparable in strength and provides additional benefits that silk carpets do not. Wool is less expensive to manufacture. It is easy to clean and hides dirt well. However, silk remains seen as the superior fibre when it comes to crafting Oriental rugs. When compared to wool rugs, silk Oriental rugs do have a distinct look. True connoisseurs prefer silk rugs because they argue the look of the patterns and motifs change with the sunlight. Regardless of how they are made, the art of handwoven Oriental rugs started thanks to silk. To keep your Oriental rug clean and looking new you should use a professional Oriental rug cleaning company.

Who knew silk was so interesting and useful? It will be exciting to see what uses we find for this flexible, beautiful fibre.

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