I went on the most amazing trip to Cambodia and visited lots of amazing locations. I thought I would share the silk worm factory I visited where everything was made by hand with amazing skill.
First they showed us the worms (photo above) and brought the mulberry leaves to fed them. Did you know silkworms are really not worms at all, silk worms are the larvae of ‘bombyx mori’ moths and silkworms are actually domesticated insects. I found out that silk worms are native to china and no longer exist in the wild. The silkworm is now incapable of flight and mates quickly after emerging from its crysalis, and dies a day or so after laying eggs.
The worms are later sealed within a yellow cocoon and embark on the process of metamorphosing into a moth. Which the moths make 1000’s of little cocoons.
The process, from silkworm egg to complete cocoon, takes about twenty-five days.
The cocoon is now treated with boiling water. The silk is then unbound from the cocoon by softening the sericin and then delicately and carefully unwinding, or ‘reeling’ the filaments to create a single strand.
The sericin protects the silk fiber during the process, this is often left in until the yarn or even woven fabric stage. Interesting fact that Raw silk is silk that still contains sericin. Once this is washed out (in soap and boiling water), the fabric is left soft, lustrous, and up to 30% lighter. The amount of usable silk in each cocoon is small, and about 2500 silkworms are required to produce a pound of raw silk. It real makes you appreciate the time it takes to make one silk scarf.
Silk weavers hand-reel the threads onto a wooden spindle to produce a uniform strand of raw silk. The process is very labor intensive, as it takes nearly 30 hours to produce a 0.5 kg (around 1 pound) of Thai silk. Did you know that a single cocoon can produce up to 1.5 km (almost 1 mile) of silk thread!
The silk is dyed using natural materials such as paprika, Lavender and lots more organic products.
The final step is weaving. Silk weaving creates a fabric by interlacing the yarns. Weaving is carried out on a hand loom.