The humble silkworm is blissfully unaware of its importance to the natural fabric industry.
It is said that a Chinese Empress discovered a silk worm's white cocoon after it fell into her tea cup.
The Empress was a keen weaver and after noticing a strand coming away from the fuzzy object she began to study it more closely. She unwound the cocoon into one long filament and the rest is history.
The amazing silkworm caterpillar feeds on mulberry trees until it is ready to pupate and then uses huge silk producing glands to spin a cocoon. The clever caterpillar adds a protective gummy protein to the thread which makes the silk cocoon rigid.
The Chinese Empress had accidentally discovered a way to remove this hard coating and release the fine silk thread....immersion in hot water! Or in her case a cup of tea!
The Chinese kept the source of this beautiful, natural silk thread secret for well over one thousand years. There were many speculations and theories but the penalty for sharing the secret was death!
Dupion is one of the most popular silk materials as it is easy to sew, drapes beautifully and is wrinkle resistant. Dupion is created by two different silk worms spinning their cocoons closely together and their fibres tangling. The thread created is rougher than other silk materials and the finished fabric contains bumps and irregularities called slubs which are part of its unique charm.
What amazing little creatures!
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At Natalie Canning – The Soft Furnishing Experts, we take great pride in designing and producing, the most beautiful and unique curtains and blinds. I am always available in my Suffolk work room to discuss ideas and requirements. All of our soft furnishings are hand made to the highest standards using traditional skills and craftsmanship. Contact me directly on 01379 668170 or email@example.com.
(some information sourced from Growing with Science blog)
(Pictures by Wikepedia, Canton Tea)