You’ve seen silk used in bedding, you’ve seen silk used in clothing, and you may have seen silk used in other accessories such as gloves, headbands and even beauty products. This super soft, luxurious fabric has become famous for its plethora of natural qualities. But, where does silk from?
The history and production of silk is a pretty interesting story.
How is silk made?
It is no secret that silkworms make silk, but what most people don’t know is that silkworms aren’t actually worms at all. Silk is made from the Bombyx Mori, a caterpillar that turns into a moth.
The Bombyx Mori caterpillars live on a diet of mulberry leaves of the mulberry tree. Mulberry trees are fruit-bearing trees, usually found in Europe, Northern America and Asia. The leaves the trees produce feed the silkworms, and their diet is what helps them produce the luxurious silk fibres.
Once the silkworms have consumed enough mulberry leaves, they will begin making their cocoon. This can take anywhere between three to eight days. To make the cocoon, the silkworm secretes fibroin, which is a sticky liquid protein which hardens when it comes into contact with the air (these are the silk fibres). The worm then turns the fibres into a tight cocoon.
To unravel the fibres, the silk cocoons are usually placed into hot water. Once the cocoons are unravelled, you are left with incredibly long strands, which are tightly woven together to create the silk fabric. Today, the production of silk is widely-known as sericulture.
Where did it all begin?
To find out where this all started, we have to go back in time. Silk production originated in China, in around 2640 BC. Legend has it a Chinese princess discovered silk after a silk cocoon fell into her cup of tea. The hot water unravelled the cocoon, and she managed to pull out a silk fibre that was several metres long.
Upon this discovery, the princess and her serving women begin to weave the silk fibres to make the luxurious fabric which we now know as silk. From that point forward, China discovered the life cycle of the silkworm and managed to keep the production of silk a secret for thousands of years.
Types of silk
There are many different types of silk from all different corners of the world. The silk we’re talking about is simply known as Mulberry silk, because of the type of leaves fed on by the silkworms. When compared to other variations of silk, Mulberry silk is often superior because it is the softest kind.
At Jasmine Silk, you may come across a type of silk known as Charmeuse silk. This is a commonly used type of silk which is woven in such a way that the textures slightly differ on each side of the fabric. One side of the fabric is as you would expect silk to be, extremely soft and fine, the other side is matte. This type of silk is useful for products where only one side needs the be silky, such as pillowcases. Read more about the differences between charmeuse and mulberry silk here.
How is it used today?
Today, China still produces the best silk in the world, and here at Jasmine Silk, we are proud to uphold the high standards of Chinese silk in all of our products.
One of the benefits of silk is that it is naturally temperature regulating, which means that in cold temperatures it will keep you warm and in warm temperatures, it will keep you cool. Because of this, silk is now used frequently in bedding. Keeping you comfortable throughout the night, the gentle fabric can actually help you sleep better because your body temperature is a fundamental factor in getting a good night’s sleep.
This property of silk is also useful with clothing, which is why when you browse the Jasmine Silk website, you’ll find products such as silk thermals, silk underwear, socks and other clothing. Silk is also a superior material for clothing because it is naturally hypoallergenic, and will not irritate the skin, making is the perfect choice for those with sensitive skin. Find out more about silk, alongside our home and lifestyle tips in the rest of our blog.