Silk is considered the most important of textile fibres and therefore is called the “queen of textiles”.
Silk fibre comes from the cocoon of the silk worm, which is a very delicate process to handle and make.
This makes silk one of the most expensive materials in the word. Some of the leading silk produces are China, India, Japan, and Italy.
The special type of silkworm is cared for under special temperature and nutrition conditions.
The silk worm goes through a four stage life cycle’ the egg, the silk worm, the pupa, and the moth.
The silkworm is fed on mulberry leaves, and in the cocoon stage releases a protein like substance from his head, which is used to make silk fibres.
Once enough cocoons are collected they are taken to the silk factory called the filature where this protein like substance (silk) is carefully unwound, and the strands are collected.
These strands are packed into small bundles called “books” and these books of raw silk are shipped to silk mills all over the world to produce silk products.
Silk is a very strong tensile fabric. This means that it can be pulled a lot without breaking.
However, this fact should not be confused with damage resistance, because silks cannot stand heavy handling; they tear easily.
The appearance of raw silk looks like cotton, or an artificial material. There are different grades of silk, but the most ‘silky’ are those pure silks, which are also, called refined silks.
Since it is a protein based fibre (like wool), it is sensitive to many chemicals, and cannot stand long exposure to acids, oily soils, or high alkalinity.
The easiest way to identify if a fabric is silk (if you are confused) is to burn it. It leaves behind a powdery ash, which synthetic and other material do not leave.
The other way to identify it is through it smell. When it is burned, the smell of the ashes is very strong, and actually difficult to bear. Wools and other materials do not spell so badly.
There are four main types of natural silk; Mulberry silk, Tasar silk, Muga silk and Eri silk.
When used to produce clothes, silks are either used in their pure form (very expensive), or mixed with other types of fabrics that are used for many things today.