Silk – A Natural Fiber

• Silk is continuous protein filament extruded by silk worm. were mysteriously kidnapped and carried through Korea and Japan.D.Silk – An Introduction • The ancient Chinese were credited with the discovery of silk and the cultivation of silk worm. who were sericulture experts.000 years for the outside world to know anything about it. where they instructed the people of the court and later Japanese craftsmen who soon produced silk quickly and scientifically. It is solidified protein produced by certain caterpillars which will encase themselves in the form of cocoon. • In the third century A. a little Chinese princess accidentally dropped a cocoon into a cup of tea. The origin of silk is shrouded in myths and legends. It possesses all the desirable properties of a textile fiber. According to one legend. . Later her mother was started to find that a fine strand could be unwound from softened cocoon.. some Chinese maidens. • They were able to guard the secret of sericulture and it took about 3.

Arjun and Asan. Most gorgeous and fabulous silk materials are produced out of this variety. accounting over 90 percent of the total production. MUGA SILK – It is produced only in the north-eastern region of India. The Eri culture extends up to an altitude of 1500 meters in the hills and is practiced in temperatures varying from 12°Cin winter to 37°C in summer with a humidity of 80 to 100%. Bihar and Orissa are the principal Tassar-producing States. They have the subdued brilliance of morning sun. . This variety is cultured mostly in the Brahmaputra Valley.Classification of Silk • • • • MULBERRY SILK – As the name indicates. Sarees from Kancheepuram. Clothings made out this variety have a “Dry Look”. TASSAR SILK – A tribal variety silkworm is raised in forest trees of Sai. are produced by worms which feed on mulberry leaves. This golden Yellow silk is produced by a Muga worm. Baranasi and Mysore belong to this variety. part of China and South East Asia. Kashmir. ERI SILK – It is produced from ‘philosammia ricini’ worms found extensively in Eastern India. Madhya Pradesh.The worm feeds on Som and Soalu leaves and produces a golden yellow silk. Eri worms are reared indoors.

India. Turkey. Sicily. Iran. Italy. Spain. South Korea. France. Syria and Austria. Soviet Union.Silk producers in the world Major silk producing countries in the world today are: Japan. Brazil. . China.

Sericulture – Life Cycle of Silk Worm .

000 silk worms. One ounce of egg yields as many as 36. Then.1 EGG Eggs that have been selected are kept in cold storage for approximately six weeks after they are laid. they are placed in incubators where they remain until all are hatched after 12 to 15 days. The worms climb through the holes. dirt and eggresidues are left behind. .Sericulture – Life Cycle of Silk Worm STAGE . When the worms appear perforated paper is placed over them and a supply of chopped mulberry leaves is spread on the paper.

2 CATTERPILLAR It is a larva about 1/4" in length. As the silk emerges. the silk worm moves its head backwards and forwards in a figure. Spinning usually takes 2 to 3 days. during which it eats 20 times its own weight of leaves. During this period the silk worms do nothing but eat. the silk worm settles down to a final feed lasting about 10 days. The larva requires careful maturing in a controlled atmosphere for approximately 20 to 30 days. except four periods of sleep lasting a day at a time during which they shed their skins and grow new ones (molting). After its fourth molt. the spinneret in the silk worm head. The liquid silk (known as FIBROIN) is present in two glands in the silk worm. As it emerges the liquid silk hardens into very fine filaments and these are coated and cemented together by a gummy substance called Sericin which comes from two other glands nearby. . It is over 3 inches long and weighs about 5 gms. From these glands it flows into two channels to a common exit tube called. The worm is now fully grown and it stops eating and begins to spin filaments. During this period they are fed on finely cut mulberry leaves 5 times a day. Gradually it surrounds itself with a strongly built cocoon made from a continuous silk strand.Sericulture – Life Cycle of Silk Worm STAGE .

So within a few days of making its cocoon the pupa must be killed by steaming. the enclosed silk worm undergoes a remarkable transformation. . Some good cocoons are kept for breeding. The continuous silk filament is thus broken up into thousands of short pieces which are useless for reeling.Sericulture – Life Cycle of Silk Worm STAGE .3 CHRYSALIS OR PUPA After finishing spinning. the pupa inside the cocoon develops into a moth. The moth escapes from the cocoon by secreting a fluid that dissolves away a section of the cocoon to make a hole through which the moth crawls out. within two weeks. passing from the form of a caterpillar into an inert chrysalis or pupa. If left undisturbed.

Sericulture – Life Cycle of Silk Worm STAGE .4 MOTH The moth emerge from the cocoons are small grayish white insects and lives only a few hours. They cannot fly. After laying eggs. The sole job of the silk worm is to mate and lay its batch of 300-400 eggs. they have no mouth and cannot eat. the moth dies. .

. The unwinding of the fine silk filaments from the cocoons is called reeling.Method Of Extraction Of Silk From Cocoon And Process Of Preparing Filature Silk SILK REELING Silk is quite different from other natural fibers which are produced in relatively short length. This filament may be as a mile in length. Reeling consists of the following operations. Silk worm makes its cocoon from a twin filament that extruded from its spinneret in a continuous strand. Since a single filament is very thin a finite number of cocoons are reeled together and combined in the form of thread without twist. All that is necessary in principle is to unwind the long continuous filaments from the cocoons and then twist a number of these together to form a thread of useful thickness. The production of a ‘thread or yarn’ of silk suitable for weaving is therefore a process different from that which is used in the case of shorter fibers.

damaged and ill-developed cocoons are rejected and used in the waste industry. Good cooking is essential for the success of subsequent operation and it is done for a few minutes.Method Of Extraction Of Silk From Cocoon And Process Of Preparing Filature Silk STIFLING Here. the moths inside the cocoons are killed by steam or hot water. GRADING OR SORTING To obtain uniform and good quality yarn. . Cocoons of different sizes are grouped together. silk grading is done. COOKING The sorted cocoons are placed in 1% hot soap solution at 90°C in a vat to soften the sericin gum and to enable the filaments to be drawn out easily as one continuous thread.

The reeler must so manipulate that the cocoons are so adjusted as to produce a uniform yarn. drilled with vertical hole gauge to denier required. Cocoons. as the operator must produce uniform thread by combining the silk filaments in suitable fashion. 15 to 18 filaments are combined. is removed with a brush until the free end from which the continuous length is found Floss is used in the waste industry. The required number of filament are brought together to form a thread by drawing them over a glass roller and then through a porcelain guide. To produce a silk thread of 28 to 30 denier. . Reeling requires great skill.Method Of Extraction Of Silk From Cocoon And Process Of Preparing Filature Silk STIFLING BRUSHING After cooking. Each filament is narrower towards the beginning and the end than it is in the middle. after brushing are transferred to a basin containing water kept at 60°C. The denier may also vary from cocoon to cocoon. the unreelable discontinuous and rough mass of fibers called floss.

The silk filaments after passing through the croissure device passes through guide eye set on sliding rod having to and fro motion across the direction of the thread.Method Of Extraction Of Silk From Cocoon And Process Of Preparing Filature Silk STIFLING CROISSURE If the silk filaments are simply drawn together the results would be ribbon or a tape. which causes crossing of the threads several times with itself to dissipate water and to assist cohesion of silk filaments. Then the filaments are wound on the rotating six armed winding reeler in the form of skeins. The books are then packed into bales for shipment. These are made up into bundles of about 6 lbs called ‘books’. If the temperature of the reeling bath is hot. If it is too cold. . so the temperature must be kept in moderate condition. So to obtain a cylindrical thread it is necessary to have a device called croissure. it comes off with difficulty and cause breakage. the silk comes off very quickly.

the silk acquires its . usually by boiling with soap and water.Method Of Extraction Of Silk From Cocoon And Process Of Preparing Filature Silk STIFLING DEGUMMED SILK The natural gum sericin is normally left on the silk during reeling. have a characteristic stiffness of handle. throwing and weaving. It acts as a size which protects the fibers from mechanical injury. The gum is removed from the finished yarns or fabrics. woven with the sericin still on the yarn. Silk fabrics. After degumming. they are also dull in appearance.

the skeins are placed on light reels from which the silk is wound on bobbins. . Twist gives cohesion to the thin filaments which are combined together. In throwing the number of TPI (Twist per Inch) inserted and the direction of twist (S or Z) are important. The softening of the sericin gum aids the easy handling of the filament. The thread is then inspected and packaged and is ready for shipment to manufacturers for construction of fabrics.Method Of Extraction Of Silk From Cocoon And Process Of Preparing Filature Silk THROWING OF SILK This is the operation of twisting of long filaments of silk into a yarn. After mechanical drying. The raw silk skeins are soaked in worm water with soap. Reeled silk is transformed into silk yarn by this process called ‘silk throwing’.

Wild silk fabrics are durable and have a coarse irregular surface. linings. Spun silk is used for shantung and pile fabrics.Uses of Silk Silk prevents body heat from radiating outwards and hence it is used to make winter apparel. . taffeta. organdy and grenadine. and elastic webbing and for velvets for umbrella fabrics and for insulative material. Silk yarn is used to produce sheer fabrics such as georgette. for dress trimmings.

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