According to Wikipedia, silk cloth has been made in China for more than 6000 years. Today it is prized for its lustre, smoothness, strength, our ability to dye it in brilliant colours, and it’s ability to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I don’t know how that last thing works, but I do appreciate it!

We can divide silk into two categories:

  • Mulberry silk, cultivated silk, and bombyx silk are all names for silk made by bombyx mori silkworms, which are cultivated and fed exclusively mulberry leaves. It is naturally white.
  • Tussah or wild silk comes from a couple other species of silk worm and is usually gathered in the wild. They are often found on oak trees. This silk is naturally a golden brown colour.

The silk comes from the cocoons in which the silkworms metamorphose into moths. Each cocoon is made of a single strand of silk, up to 900m in length, that can be carefully unwound and used to make a fine silk thread.

Bombyx mori cocoons *

Sari silk

Saris are generally made from silk, often in really beautiful, bright colours. The odd bits of cloth left over from making them is sometimes shredded and used by hand-spinners like Nicole to make lovely yarn.

Recycled sari silk

Bombyx mori moth *

* Image used with permission.