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How is silk made?

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to raise silkworms. I never got around to doing it, and as a silk painter, I am still fascinated by how this plump little white worm can create something as rich and luxurious as silk. You can imagine what a special treat it was for me to visit a working silk factory in Suzhou, China. It was the number one silk factory and began making silk in 1926. I saw the entire process of silk production from the silkworm and the mulberry leaves to how the cocoons were hand sorted on a conveyer belt into either single or double cocoons.

Surprisingly some of the cocoons have two worms inside and are used for silk batting for quilts rather than woven into fabric. The single cocoons are placed into pots full of boiling water where they collapse and start to unravel. Once the worm is removed, (are you ready for this) ... it is eaten! Don't forget, in this culture, worms are considered a very special delicacy with a high protein content. No thanks, I think I'll stick to a hotdog and fries! Once the cocoons start to unravel, they are whisked with a stiff natural brush to snare a loose thread to begin the spooling and reeling process and then finally woven into luxurious silk.
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Author:Newman, Michelle
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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