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Silk - Procedure, Properties and Types

Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. Except silk other protein fibres are weaker than cellulostic fibres. Silk is the strongest and the longest natural fibre. It is produced by a caterpillar called silk worm. To make its Cocoon a substance is extended from its body in one continuous strand from begining to end. It is possible to unwind the Cocoon to obtain silk filament. China is the leading silk producer of the world. Other major silk producing countries includes Japan, India and Italy.

Silk Procedure

The life cycle of silk worm encircles in four stages - the egg, the silkworm, the pupa and the moth.A large quantity of silk is produced by "Seri-culture", a method to produce silk by domesticating the silk worm.


Production of Cocoon for their filament is called Sericulture. In sericulture, the silkworm is domesticated on mulberry trees and after laying of eggs it is collected to give incubation in a mildly warm atmosphere. At the end of 30 days (the time to require hatching of eggs) Silkworm hatches. They are about 1/8th inch. The young Silkworm requires care and carefully controlled diets. Shedded or chopped mulberry leaves are fed to the worms 5 times each day. The area in which worms are grows is kept clean for about a month. The worm grows gradually and the fully grown worms are about 3 inches in length. Only these moths are selected as breeding stock and are permitted to complete the cycle. The Cocoon is formed by silkworm in 2-3 days. The silk worm begins to spin a cocoon by letting out fibroin a gummy material, moving its head in the shape of "8".

Reeling of Silk

Reeling of Silk
The cocoons are sorted according to the color, size, shape and texture. Reeling is the process of unwinding the silk filaments from the cocoon and combining them together to make a thread of raw silk. Several cocoons are placed in a container of warm water, which helps to remove the gummy substance and the filament of silk are removed and filled on reel to form silk. The filament from 3 10 cocoons are held together to form a strand of yarn.
Properties of Silk
Properties of Silk
1. Color
The natural color of cultivated silk is off white to cream. A different kind of silk known as Wild Silk is browm
2. Luster
The luster of degummed silk is high but not so bright as manufactured fibres.
3. Environmental Properties
a)   Moths doesnt harm silk but insects may attack it. Direct sunlight will destroy the fabric.
b)   It absorbs moisture.
c)   It is cool to wear in the summer yet warm to wear in winter.
Important silk producing worm is Bombyxmori (Latin word for Silkworm of the mulberry tree).
Main protein of silk is serisin and fibron.
Silk is known as the Queen of Textiles.
Silk Mark was an initiative of Ministry of Textiles, Govt of India, SilkMark Organisation of India.
Silk Mark - Ministry of Textiles, Govt of India Silk Mark - Ministry of Textiles, Govt of India
Types of Silks
1.  Mulberry Silk
The mulberry silkworm Bombyxmori feed on Mulberry leaves and is the only domesticated silkworm reared indoors.Origin : Karanataka, Andra Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Tamilnadu
2.  Vanya Silk
The commercially produced Vanya Silks are the Tussar, Eri and Muga produced exclusively by India.
3.  Tussar Silk
Indian Tussar, copperish in color is produced by the silkworm "Antherea Mylitta" which thrives on Asan and Arjun,out in the open nature. Origin : Orissa, West Bengal, Andrapradesh.
4.  Eri Silk
Eri also known as Endi or Errandi, with its matt finish is produced by Endi Silkworm Philosamia Ricini domesticatedand reared indoors on castor leaves. Endi is blended with cotton, wool, jute and even mulberry silk to createpremium fashion accessories and home furnishing. Eri Silk is also called as "Ahimsa Silk" because it is obtained from without killing the moth.Origin : Assam, West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar
5.  Muga Silk
Muga silk obtained from semidomesticated silkworm "Antheraca Assamensis" feeds on the leaves of Som and Soalu plants.Muga is available in different shades of natural gold. Muga silk is generally used in filament form.Origin : Assam
Mulberry Varieties
Silk Care and Washing
Silk Care
  • Always wash your silks in soft water. Add a pinch of Borax or Ammonia, if the water is hard
  • Use a good soap either in the form of flakes or solution
  • To remove soap and solied spots rinse 2-3 times in warm water
  • Avoid harsh scrubbing
  • Silk with doubtful color fastness may be immersed in cold water with small amount of citric acid or acetic acid for 2 minutes before washing
  • Squeeze lightly by hand to remove water
  • Do not use washing machine for washing silk products
  • Dry in shade without folding (in single layer)
  • Dry cleaning is advisible
Storing Silk Garments
Storing Silk Sarees
  • Store them clean and avoid wrinkles
  • Protect from insects, dust, excessive moisture and light
  • Avoid direct contact with wood
  • Avoid storing in plastics bags and card board boxes
  • Use white cotton cloth to cover the silk saree
  • Use brown paper cover to avoid blacking of Zari
  • Periodically expose your silk to fresh air and dry in sun shade
  • Donot use Naphthalene balls and use only Silica gel sachets in storage racks
  • Periodically take out your silks, do reverse fold and store it
  • If drenched in rain, wash the sarees in plain water immediately
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