Lustrous Silk Fiber
Silk fiber is in a class of it's own - there is nothing quite like it. There are two main types of silk – cultivated and wild. You may also hear the term peace silk because the silkworm is allowed to live out it's natural life cycle, emerging naturally from the silk cocoon. See
for more info and check out the natural dyes and information while you're there. You can also purchase peace silk cocoons for spinning silk from Aurora Silk.
The cultivated silkworm is usually the Bombyx mori
. The process for most cultivated silk is to boil the cocoon and reel off the single strand, or filament of silk – often hundreds of yards. Only enough moths are allowed to emerge to replenish the silkworm population. Several filaments are combined to form a yarn. When a twist is added to hold them together, it is referred to as a thrown yarn. Staple silk, also called silk noils or silk waste, is produced from damaged cocoons, usually where the silkworm has been allowed to emerge naturally.Tussah silk
is the most common wild silk. It is darker in colour, has a duller luster and more pronounced texture than Bombyx silk.
Silk fiber is one of the strongest natural fibers and makes a wonderful knitting yarn. It blends really well with other fibers, especially wool. This has the added benefit of cutting down the cost. Silk has less elasticity than wool and when stretched, a small amount does not return to it's original length – but while it may not retain its shape like wool, it does have a lovely draping quality. It also won't shrink like wool and because the fiber is a smooth filament, it is comfortable against the skin. Like wool, silk has good moisture absorbency and is a poor conductor of heat – so it is comfortable in both summer and winter.
Silk is available as a spinning fiber and comes in a variety of forms – tops, hankies, bells and caps. It should be spun with a firm, worsted twist because it will loosen once plied since unlike wool, it has no crimp or scales to hold the twist in place. Check your local yarn store, or if you're lucky, your local spinning store for silk spinning fiber. They may not carry it but might order it for you. Otherwise, a good source for silk spinning fiber, as well as other natural fibers, is eBay. There is so much available and you get a general idea what kind of prices you should expect.
Silk dyes beautifully with natural dyes. During the process it should not be heated more than 80C (180F) to preserve it's natural luster.
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