Friday, December 2, 2011

Silk Factory


Heading into the silk factory.  This was another place l really wanted to see and also to buy a silk
quilt if they weren't tooooo expensive.
Beautiful hand embroidered old style coat.
Silk takes on the dye easily and the colors are so vibrant and gorgeous.  This outfit would have
only been worn by the Emperor, as it is yellow.
The cycle of the silkworm!!!  The moth lays around 300 to 400 egg, which turn into larvae.  The larvae are fed on chopped up mulberry leaves and these than become caterpillars.  When the caterpillars are ready to spin their cocoons,they are put on branches which they hang from.  Under the jaw are two glands and when ready they secrete a protein substance  through the spinneret in a long filament, and as they turn their body in a figure 8 the filament winds around them creating the cocoon.  As soon as the secretion hits the air it hardens.  The filament is about a km. long in length when the cocoon is finished.

One cocoon is a single and the larger is a double.  As soon as the cocoon is done they are placed
 in a stove or something hot to kill the caterpillar inside.  When you shake them you can hear the dead caterpillar rattling around inside!!
The cocoons are put into water, which helps soften it and they use this brush like thing which
picks up the filament to begin unraveling it.
This machine unwinds the filament from the cocoon and is called reeling.  You need  between
4-10 cocoons that are unwound together to make one silk thread.
Cocoons waiting to be put into the water to soften and be unwound.  Raw silk is silk in which  not all the sericin or protein substance is washed out.  Broken or waste filaments and damaged cocoons are retained, treated to remove the sericin, and combed.  This is then processed into yarn, marketed as spun silk, which is inferior in character to the reeled product and is much cheaper.
Dead caterpillars left after losing their home!!!
Sometimes two caterpillars will have spun a cocoon together and  reeling cannot be used to untangle the filaments, so another method is used.  The cocoon is softened in water, then broken open, and the caterpillar and waste removed,cleaned, and then stretched over a u shaped form, and left to dry.  These
are used to make the quilt batting.
When ready to be used, four people stretch the thin flattened dome  into the desired size
 and add as many layers as needed for a quilt.  It was incredible to see how that little piece stretched
into a big flat layer, like a thin cobweb! It takes many layers to build up the batting, and you
can buy 5 or 6 different weights of quilts.

Checking out the various quilt covers, all made from silk.
Blaine liked this cover and I said it was because the leaves looked like footballs!!  We didn't buy this one!
Prices and size of duvet covers.  The different generations are different types of covers. This is in Yuan, not
Canadian money!!
The covers are so soft and luxurious!!
The girls packaging up our quilt and cover for easier transport.
You don't ever wash the quilt, but hang it outside to air, or have it dry cleaned at a place which knows how  
to handle silk quilts!  If it's washed, the batting all balls up and is ruined.
Our guide wasn't sure she wanted her picture taken because she said she was ugly!!  I don't know
what mirror she was looking in.  She was very effervescent and had such a pretty smile.

Of course they have a whole other store with beautiful hand embroidered silk pictures and all kinds of clothes, but they weren't particularly pushy  so it was rather fun to wander through and look.  The
pictures were exquisite  and the bed duvets were really beautiful.  Would have liked
to buy a few more!!

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