Ah silk. It is such a luxurious fiber; cool and soft to the touch. It has an unmistakable feel that you always know when something is made of silk.
To become the silk that we know and love, this fiber has a very interesting story.
Silk comes from the cocoon of the Bombyx moth. Before turning into a moth the Bombyx caterpillar spins itself a cocoon of 1000 yards of silky fiber to house itself during the transformation. The caterpillar secretes a substance that is a thin but strong strand of fiber, which is what we know as silk.
In the conventional harvesting of silk the cocoon and caterpillar are boiled before it hatches to produce a continuous thread of silk. Peace silk, also known as Vegetarian silk, or Tussah silk, harvests the cocoons after the moths have hatched. While this is seen as more humane, the process to get the cocoon to become silk as we know is not as simple.
In the conventional production of silk, the boiled cocoon is simply wound onto spools. In the production of Peace silk, the cocoon is spun like other fibers to create yarn. This is because for the moth to emerge from its cocoon, it secretes a chemical to break down a part of the cocoon’s wall to form a hole. The continuous thread of the cocoon is broken once the moth leaves. The chemical also turns the silk a different color than conventional silk. The upside of Peace silk is that it is still just as strong and luxurious as conventional silk.
Tussah silk is also considered vegetarian, but instead of the silk gathered in a commercial setting, the cocoons are harvested from the wild. Their color ranges from beige to brown because the caterpillars eat a more diverse diet.
Aurora Silk offers many weights of natural Tussah silk, perfect for dying. If you want to spin your own silk, they also offer limited quantities of cocoons.
Spirit Trail Fiberworks offers both conventional and Tussah silk. Their Tussah is 2-ply and comes in a variety of deep jewel colors in solids and variegated blends.
For something with a little bit more weight Color Song offers a 100% Tussah silk yarn in sport weight that is warm and strong without loosing its luster. Cornflower (pictured) and Popsicle are just a few of their wonderful color ways that they offer on this great looking yarn.
More Fabric and Fibers for your craft projects:
Image credit: Color Song
15 CommentsLeave a Reply
i am a little tempted to get my own silk worms and try it out- cause I actually have a mulberry tree and so i have something to feed them 🙂 Not sure i could figure out how to make it into yarn after though.
Leslie, Aurora Silk sells silk worms for people to grow their own silk. They have lots of information on their website and they are starting to become my favorite eco-craft supply seller.
I love that website too- thanks to your posts! They also sell indigo powder which I am planning to use to make autumn’s milk paint with…i am so gonna spend all my money there in one swoop… lol
hi, andar here, i just read your post. i like very much. agree to you, sir.
In a Cocoon, I am sericulture consultant, artist and mulberry farmer in the Caribbean. We are mnentored by the People’s republic of China, have explored silk in Japan, have helped expand capacity in Cuba’s Proyecta de Sericultura and find all things Silk, fascinating. Peace Silk has been a wonderful alternative to smothering and captivated me from the time I first heard of Portland, Oregon’s Aurora Silk and their Logwood Project of the Dominican Republic. Peace Silk resulting in silk noils are tailor-made for crafting and I have seen the fabulous textiles carried by Aurora Silk when I visited them in Portland last year. I was able to also obtain Ms. Kolander’s magnificent First Edition Silk Worker’s Journal, a fabulous book for persons interested in sericulture, its history and future.
A word of caution: Silk is a Total Passion ! Once you get hooked, you’ll never wear anything else, put anything else on your skin or face. Wearing Silk, some one said, is like the touch of the Hand of God…Warm regards from TropikSilk & the Mulberry Patch Destiny Inc.
One Heart from Barbados
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