Overview of the silk production process

Silkworm silk is actually the secretion of silkworms, which is the larval stage of the insect "silk moth".

There are many types of silkworms, which can generally be divided into mulberry silkworms, tussah silkworms, castor silkworms, camphor silkworms, willow silkworms, cassava silkworms and celestial silkworms. Among these types of silkworms, silkworms produce the most silk, and the secretions spit out by silkworms are what we know as silkworm silk.

1. Silkworm moth growth process

The newly hatched larvae from the silkworm eggs undergo continuous growth and development, and the silkworm forms a new skin and sheds the old skin. This process is called molting. Generally, silkworms need to molt four times during the larval stage. The period between the two molts is called instar, such as the first instar between egg hatching and the first molt, and the second instar between the first molt and the second molt. At the later stage of the fifth age, the characteristics of maturity are gradually reflected, and the most important sign is silk spinning and cocooning. At this time, silkworms are called mature silkworms.

2. Cocooning

At the end of the fifth instar, silkworms stop eating completely, their bodies shorten, their bodies tend to be transparent, and they are ready to spin silk and cocoon. There is a secretory gland in the silkworm body, namely the silk gland, and the substance secreted by the silk gland is a viscous, semi-flowing liquid silk. It mainly contains two substances, one is silk fibroin and the other is sericin. Both silk fibroin and sericin are composed of various amino acids.

3. Make cocoons

Mulberry silkworms are old enough to cluster (clusters refer to silkworm clusters, a tool for silkworms to spin silk and make cocoons, commonly known as "silkworm mountains", mostly made of bamboo, wood, grass, etc.), and then spin silk to connect the surrounding clusters. Repeated winding regularly forms a frame outside the cocoon, and then inside the frame, the silk is spun to form silkworm clothing with a high content of sericin and uneven thickness. Then the silkworm body begins to bend into a "C" shape, the head and chest begin to swing regularly, spit out "S" or "8" shaped silk loops, and weave them from front to back. Replace the position, so that it is knotted layer by layer to form many silk sheets, and these silk sheets are adhered by sericin, thus forming a cocoon layer. In the later stage of cocooning, the silkworm body begins to shrink significantly, the head swings slowly and loses coordination, the silk spinning gradually loses its regularity, the glue content of silk also gradually decreases, and the silk is loose, so inside the cocoon layer A loose layer of silk is formed, called the pupal lining. In this way, the silkworm finally completed the process of spinning and cocooning.

4. Making silk

The so-called silk making refers to the process of making raw silk from cocoon silk. The silk-making process includes cocoon mixing, cocoon peeling, cocoon selection, cocoon cooking, silk reeling, reshaking, sorting, and inspection.

Cocoon cooking uses the action of water, heat and some chemical additives to properly expand and dissolve the sericin around the cocoon, reduce the adhesion of sericin between cocoon silk so that the silk cocoon can be continuously and sequentially released during reeling. Silk reeling is the process of dissociating boiled cocoon threads and sorting them out, and then gathering several cocoon threads to synthesize raw silk. Silk reeling generally has seven technological processes: threading, threading, threading, threading, sheath twisting, winding and drying. Re-shaking is the process of reeling raw silk wound on a small bobbin and then winding it on a bobbin or bobbin. The purpose is to make the raw silk well-shaped and soft to the touch.

Silk is an extraordinary fabric prized for its luxurious texture, natural luster and breathability. From its origins in silkworm cocoons to the weaving of exquisite silk fabrics, the production process involves careful cultivation and craftsmanship. Whether you wear silk garments or decorate your home with silk fabrics, understanding the journey of silk helps you appreciate this timeless material. In Realsilklife, you can source silk fabrics for your collections.