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HOW SILK IS PRODUCED

Sericulture is the term used for the cultivation of the silkworm, and in fact the `silkworm` is not really a worm, its a moth pupa. Many countries around the world have their own indigenous varieties of silkworms and silk moths. It was the blind, flightless species of moth called Bombyx mori that was first used to produce silk, this was in China and it lead to China dominating silk production for a very long time. Even now the vast majority of the very best quality silk comes from China.

Within a period of four days to a week the Bombyx mori lays at least 500 eggs, and soon afterwards it dies. Just one gram in weight is equal to around 100 of these tiny eggs. After hatching 3,000 silkworms in captivity will eat 100kg of mulberry leaves to produce just half a kilo of raw silk. Provided they are restricted to a diet of mulberry leaves the Bombyx mori will produce a thread which is finer, smoother and rounder than that of any other silkworm. The threads are also very long, often hundreds of metres to a kilometre long for a single thread! Over several thousand years the Bombyx mori lost its power to fly, its main role being that of mating and producing eggs for the next generation of silk producers. In this way it has come to be used as the specialised silk producer, producing the finest, highest quality silk in the world.

Producing silk demands constant close attention and is a lengthy process. Within a controlled environment the eggs are laid out in rows of stacked aluminium boxes. Regular examination is a must to make sure they are free from any kind of disease. Initially they are kept at 18C and this is gradually increased over a period of around 10 days to 25C, and at temperature they hatch out as larva about half a centimetre long.

After hatching the larvae are fattened up by being fed twice an hour on freshly chopped mulberry leaves throughout the day and night. Set up in their aluminium boxes the many thousands of munching silkworms sound like heavy rain falling on the roof!

Incredibly the silkworms multiply in weight around 10,000 times within just six weeks of hatching. They also change colour and shed their whitish-grey skin several times. By the time the silkworm has grown to about 8cms long it will have stored enough energy to enter into the cocoon stage.

Silk cocoons laid out on Mulberry leaves The cocoon formation period itself, called pupating, takes between 3 days and a week and to begin this the silkworm attaches itself to something stable in order to spin its cocoon – in the wild this would most likely be a twig or a tree branch or trunk, in artificial rearing it it a compartmented frame in the rearing house. Liquid secretions come out of an exit tube in the head called a spinneret. It is the diameter of the spinneret that will determine the thickness of the long continuous filament of silk thread. Upon exposure to air the secretions quickly become hardened and form two filaments composed of fibroin and sericin. It is the sericin that helps rejuvenate skin and hair and this is one of the reasons, besides its obvious comfort value, that mulberry silk is so sought after for use as bedding. Over the next four days the silkworm rotates its body some 300,000 times, constructing a cocoon and producing a very long silk thread often up to a kilometre long.

This is the long, complicated and skilled process that goes into making the silk for your mulberry silk duvet and mulberry silk pillow. Five thousand years ago only Chinese royalty and high officials were allowed to sleep under its cosy, warm folds. Today you too can sleep like royalty.

The very best duvets made from hypoallergenic 100% natural mulberry silk, modern versions of silk duvets used by the emperors and empresses of ancient China, are available to buy through this website. Find out more by clicking below.....



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Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Jean
London, UK

"I just want to let you know how pleased I am with my silk duvet, it's so so warm and comfortable yet so light, thank you."
Francine
Winnipeg, Canada


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