Sometimes, when we see a product we like and purchase, we don’t ask how it is made and how long is the process that leads to that item.
When I was young, our primary school teachers brought us to visit a silkworms farm. I was so impressed to see all the long process that started from smooth silkworms and mulberry trees and ended with silk threads. I can remember nowadays the smell of that place and it was the exact moment I fell in love with silk.
My grandma was a tailor and, during the 80s and the 90s, I spent a lot of time watching her sewing, cutting the fabric and turning it into beautiful dresses. Her shop was in the centre of Milan and I remember all those ladies asking for luxury and colorful silk dresses.
But.. do you know how silk is made? What’s the role of mulberry trees? How long does it take to get one mulberry silk pillowcase?
Mulberry comes from Asia but it also widespread in Africa and North America. Mulberry can be white or black. White mulberry is a species native to central and eastern Asia and was imported into Europe with the silkworms because they love to eat its leaves. Black mulberry is native of Asia Minor and Iran and it has smaller leaves and produces tasty black-violet fruits. Probably it was introduced in Europe in the sixteenth century
There are hundreds of silkworm breeds that produce a usable fiber but only the Bombyx mori is bred by man.
This silkworm produces silk in two parallel glands placed inside the body. Silk is made up of proteins collected in the glands. The thin slime, in contact with the air, becomes solid and, thanks to the movements of the head, it is arranged in layers forming a raw silk cocoon, consisting of a single silk thread between 300 and 900 meters long. The thread is made up of two proteins: two parallel fibroin threads covered with sericin.
The legend attributes to Empress Xi Ling Shi the discovery of silk in 3000 BC. She realized that it was possible to untangle the cocoon because it fell into a cup of hot tea. In fact in the reeling the cocoons are immersed in hot water to unravel the filament. First, with the soaking, the sericin, the substance that acts as a glue for the cocoon, is softened. Then, with the stripping, the cocoon is rubbed with a toothbrush to free the leader and finally, during the actual reeling, the continuous thread unravels from the cocoon. To make a silk yarn for weaving it is necessary to combine the thread of at least 6-7 cocoons that, thanks to sericin remain cohesively together during reeling.
With a special machine a twist is applied to the raw silk thread, which increases its toughness and prevents the separation of the various threads. After this process, the silk thread becomes a yarn that is ready to be transformed into a fabric. The mulberry silk production process is long and complex. In these days, although technologies have reduced time and manual skills, it is precisely the close interrelationship between every single phase, combined with great experience, what makes this yarn so unique, pure and special.
This is how our luxury silk bedding sets and silk satin pillowcases are made.. a product that can last forever!