The process of creating Mulberry silk will be covered in this article, along with the reasons why it might cost more than other silks.
Mulberry silk’s smoothness and stronger fiber are just a couple of the appealing qualities it holds. It is always thought to be the most expensive type of natural silk. What contributes to the slight price increase for this item?
Mulberry silk is made from the silkworms of the Bombyx mori moth. The moth has one job to do and that is to lay eggs.
The first step in the procedure is to raise the silkworm, Bombyx mori, in a controlled setting. In a box, the female silkworm lays eggs that are incubated for a few days before developing into larvae. They are now prepared to be fed mulberry leaves.
Silkworms are caterpillars of the Bombyx mori moth, which means “silkworm of the black mulberry tree”. The most crucial fact about mulberry silk is that the caterpillars strictly consume mulberry leaves as their only source of food, although different types of silk can be produced depending on what the caterpillar consumes.
Caterpillars that consume osage oranges and lettuce rather than mulberry leaves produce other lower-quality silks. In order to remove the dingy yellow color and foul smell that are frequently associated with lower quality silk, lower quality silk also needs more processing than mulberry silk.
Life Cycle of a Silkworm
Silkworms go through four developmental stages, similar to most insects: egg, larva, pupa, and adult, of which the silkworm moth is the final one. Due to the enormous amount of growth that occurs in the larva, which is the silkworm caterpillar, they must shed their skin four times as they develop.
They go through instars, which are sort of like stages within stages, when they shed their skin. When a silkworm is in its fifth instar, when it is about three inches long, it consumes about 85% of its food.
The larva’s glands now account for 25% of its body weight, having grown 10,000 times since birth. This indicates that it is prepared to spin its silk cocoon.
Mulberry saplings grow for about 6 months after being planted in nurseries. The mulberry trees’ leaves are then collected and fed to the silk larvae.
For about six weeks, the larvae are fed enormous amounts of finely chopped mulberry leaves. They grow to a length of about 4 inches during this time and go through four skin-shedding cycles. The silkworm is now prepared to spin silk after it has finished eating.
The worm is fastened to a frame, rotating continuously while secreting saliva. When the saliva comes into contact with the air, it hardens and forms two silk filaments. Additionally, it releases sericin, a gooey fluid that binds the filaments together to provide protection.
Over the next 4 days, the silkworm spins about 1 km of filament, constructing a cocoon and enclosing itself completely within it, growing into a pupa.
A small number of the male and female pupae from each batch of cocoons are set aside until they develop into moths and are mated to create the following generation of silkworms. The remaining cocoons are shipped to be converted into silk.
In order to kill the pupae and soften the sericin, the cocoons are boiled in water. After being carefully wound onto a reel, the silk fibers are released from the cocoon.
To make a single raw silk thread, several cocoons’ worth of filaments are wound together. A pound of raw silk requires about 2500 silkworms to produce.
Sericin gum is still present in raw silk. With the help of boiling water and soap, it is eliminated. The resulting silk is lustrous, light, and soft; it is then twisted to create the strands of silk yarn.
The various types of silk yarn—crepe, organzine, singles, etc.—are twisted using various techniques. At this point, color-dyed baths are used to dye the yarn.
In the last step, looms (handlooms and power loom) are used to weave silk fabric from the silk yarns. To create the wide variety of silk fabrics that we can find today, various looms use various ways to hold the warp and weft yarns in them and employ various weaving techniques.
Conclusion: How is Mulberry Silk Made?
The silkworms of the Bombyx mori moth are used to produce mulberry silk. The moth only has one task to complete, which is to lay eggs. It stops working after laying about 500 eggs, at which point it passes away.
The tiny, pinpoint-sized eggs are kept at 65 degrees Fahrenheit, then the temperature is gradually increased to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in order to hatch them.
Asia has been cultivating mulberry trees for thousands of years, producing silk that is very old. because mulberry silk has such a luxurious feel and is filled with advantages for the best possible sleep.
Are Silkworms Killed to Make Silk?
Most of the insects raised by the industry don’t survive past the pupal stage because silk is made from the cocoons of larvae. Roughly 3,000 silkworms are killed to make a single pound of silk. In other words, they are killed for this every year in the billions, if not trillions.
Can Silk Be Harvested Without Killing Silkworms?
Because the silk is produced from the stem, not the cocoon, no silkworm is killed.