What is silk?


Silk is the strongest natural fibre. Its tensile strength is even higher than that of steel.

Silk - a protein fibre – is created by silk moths during pupation. To harvest silk, cocoons are first placed into hot water to dissolve the protective glue (sericine) and release the silk fibre. Then, there are two ways to turn silk fibre into yarn: reeling and spinning. The highest quality silk with the most lustre is obtained by reeling the fibres off the cocoon directly. From a single cocoon, a fibre of up to 1500 m length can be reeled, which means that the fibre is pulled directly off the cocoon and twisted together with fibres from other cocoons.

If the cocoons are broken, or if wild silk is harvested, reeling is not possible. In that case, the cocoons are soaked and the fibre loosened and brushed to be spun into thread. The most common silk is cultivated mulberry silk. It’s produced by the Mulberry Silkmoth, Bombyx mori. We at the Sidengården work a lot with three wild silks from India: Tussah (produced by the Tussah Silkmoth), Muga silk (produced by the Assam Silkmoth), and Eri silk (produced by the Ricini Moth).

Wild silks differ greatly in appearance and feel compared to cultivated mulberry silk. They are not quite as lustrous as reeled mulberry silk, but have a somewhat more sophisticated elegance. Tussah and Muga silk are golden in colour, and rage from extremely soft to a bit crispy with a beautiful lustre.

Silk is known to be able to absorb and transport moisture very effectively, making it a great first layer of clothing.