The production of natural silk yarn is still a rather difficult and long process, which has a rich history. Leading positions on silk production in the world market are occupied by China and India, in these countries the production of silk thread is originated. If before the caterpillar mulberry silkworm produced raw materials, being in natural conditions, then modern silk producers bred valuable insect on an industrial scale. One silkworm in its relatively short life is able to produce several kilometres of silk high-quality thread, from which a precious silk yarn is produced.
The tradition of sericulture originated in China, on the banks of the Great Yellow River, around V century BC. The history of silk worming tells that the tradition of making silk in China was brought by Empress Lei Zu. She taught people to breed silkworms, untangle cocoons and thus create their own clothes. Since 475 BC. silk products have become available for general use. More than 2,000 years ago, the Emperor Wu Di sent his envoy to study the western territories, but the envoy returned not only with new maps of the west, but also the future golden dwelling of the whole of China. So the Great Silk Road appeared. During the journey of 138-126 BC. Zhang Qian saw in the Ferghana Valley which attracted his eye with its beauty and richness. He reported to the emperor about the absence in other countries of silk-weaving craft and advised the emperor to export silk abroad in exchange for beautiful horses which impressed him the most, as well as sweet fruits and wine. Thus, in 121 BC. The first camel caravan with silk and bronze mirrors and other handmade products paved the famous Silk Road. Silk in the West was highly appreciated for its ability to resist terrible insect-parasites, beauty and elegance. Many countries, through which the Silk Road passed, became the richest. However, despite such popularity of silk in the countries of the west, the Chinese masters kept the secret of its production for many years. But one day, according to legend, a cunning Indian man wooed to a Chinese princess, and as a dowry, Chinese gold-silk wished. And the poor bride brought larvae of silkworm and mulberry seeds in her high bridal hairstyle. So silk has gained popularity all over the world.
But the secret of producing a quality silk thread lies in the complexity of the production process, developed by centuries of practice, which is why silk is one of the most expensive and elite types of yarn. From the eggs of the silkworm on the leaves of the mulberry tree, caterpillars hatch about 2 mm long. They grow fast, constantly eat, and after 4-5 weeks reach a size of 30 mm.
Then silkworms are laid out on straw boxes, there they create cocoons. The shell of the cocoon consists of a continuous silk thread length from 300-900 meters to 1500 meters in the largest cocoons.
This process takes place for 8 days, in the cocoon the caterpillar turns into a pupa. The colour of the cocoon can have different shades, such as: pink, green, yellow, etc. But for the industry there is only a special breed of butterflies with a white cocoon. Over the next 15 days, a butterfly should hatch from the chrysalis, but as a rule, the last stage is skipped, as the butterfly spoils the integrity of the silk thread, wanting to get rid of the cocoon. Therefore, before the transformation cocoons are heated in the oven, then processed in chemical solution or ordinary boiling water, so that the adhesive substance securing the threads evaporates. After processing, the cocoon is destroyed and breaks up into strings.
The quality of the thread depends on the breed of insect and the leaves of the plant that it feeds on. Silkworm is the most common insect producer on the Earth. Yarn, which has a more "rough" texture - Tassar, Ery, Maga, - is made from fibres of "Indian" caterpillars, nourished with leaves of oak, castor-oil and wood polenta. For a very long time silk was used for the production of precious clothes for royal people. The most noble (and, accordingly, the most expensive) silk is unwound and unvarnished, its thread is stretched from the middle of the cocoon.
Despite the fact that modern knitting magazines are full of models of silk yarn, keep in mind that such yarn is expensive. Be aware of counterfeits, it has become too tempting recently for many unscrupulous importers to offer a 100% pure viscose at the price of natural silk. To distinguish such fraud is difficult enough, we can advise only burn the thread and smell the smoke. The smell is very specific; it should resemble the smell of burned chicken fluff.
Also, it is evident that the inscription on the label "artificial silk" is also an attempt to deceive and attract the buyer to this tempting word "silk". As a matter of fact, it is viscose, but nevertheless goes under the phrase "an artificial silk"
In order not to have an unpleasant residue from the story above, a nice story for you: several times we heard from customers of our stores that in Soviet times, in the Poltava region, in Western Ukraine, there were small silk production farms (on the basis of individual farming). The caterpillars were placed on shelves in a shed, fed with silk leaves and the raw materials received were handed over to the special institutions. So keep in mind that if you want you can try to get your own silk farm, if, of course, the family will not object too much.