Silk and worms

Just uncovered a disk of extra photos from our 2013 Thai adventure. A trip around a Chiang Mai silk farm as part of a traditional crafts day! Apologies for the grainy pictures, it was quite dim inside for the sake of the moths!!

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The production of Thai silk begins with the Bombyx mori, a small silk worm that comes from the eggs of a silk moth. Above Neil inspects the icky critters in various stages of growth.

For their first year, they eat the leaves of mulberry trees before building a cocoon from their spittle.

Below you can see the moth cocoons, the moths themselves and the rather cruel method of extracting the silk by boiling the cocoons.

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In its original cocoon form, raw silk is bumpy and irregular. Weavers separate the completed cocoons from the mulberry bush and soak them in a vat of boiling water to separate the silk thread from the caterpillar inside the cocoon.

Here’s a close up of the pale moths and their eggs. It takes around 380 cocoons to produce 90 grams of silk yarn.

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A single thread filament is too thin to use on its own so the Thai weavers combine many threads to produce a thicker, usable fiber.

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Above and below weavers use a reeling machine to produce a uniform strand of raw silk thread.

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The natural colour of the silk ranges from light gold to very light green. The thread is soaked in hot water and bleached before dyeing in order to remove the natural yellow coloring. It can then be dyed a variety of colours.

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It’s then wound onto bobbins and ready to weave into cloth.

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Here’s another set of bobbins ready to go.

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Once washed and dried, the dyed silk is then woven using a traditional hand operated loom

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Here are some colourful examples of cloth being woven by the patient weavers.

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I love this colour combination.

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Below are some undyed natural silk clothes and some hand painted scaves drying before heading to the shop.

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Here’s some of final high quality silk for sale in the factory shop. Every shade and hue you could possibly want.

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These mouth watering shades of lemon and lime are very tempting but very expensive so alas I left empty handed!!

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