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Sharing Silk Information


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#1 Atgemis

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 06:40 PM

I recently decided to photograph some silk under a magnifying glass to show people how the weft differ between silks.
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This is an image of a repps silk under the glass.
The next image is that of the silk itself according to the naked eye.
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You can see that the silk in a repps for example, has a consistent pattern to the weft in a straight line which is equidistant which causes that grain which looks similar to faille.

I will post more different silks in the next couple of days but I thought I'd like to share this as a start.
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#2 Atgemis

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 05:07 PM

A Brief History Of Como Silk

Como is about a half hour drive from Milan. It is nestled between verdant mountains and a tanquil lake. It sits on the divide between Italy and Switzerland. Como is also the home of Italy's finest silk production and the last remaining hub for silk in Europe. It is also where Le Noeud Papillon predominantly sources its silk from.

The silk worm (Bombyx Mori, or Mulberry Worm) is a very small worm measuring roughly one millemetre in length. In it's short life of approximately 30 days, it multiplies its own body weight approximately 8000 times to reach a length of almost 9 centimetres.

For example, 30 grams of silk worm eggs will consume approximately 1000 kilograms of Mulberry leaves, then forming cocoons which will make approximately 6 kgs of raw silk.

The worm itself ingests the Mulberry leaves, not by chewing, but by tearing the leaves into strips small enough to be ingested.

When the worm is ready to form its cocoon, it does one last big poop and then heads out onto the branch to begin secreting the silk from two different glands at a diameter of around 15 one thousandths of a millimetre. The worm then spins approximately 2000 metres of filament around the cocoon over a 4 day period.

The worm then metamorphises into a butterfly, first forming into a chrysalid. Then it forms into a butterfly which melts the glue which binds the cocoon. Of course, because silk worms have been cultivated over thousands of years, the butterfly cannot actually fly. And the cocoons are boiled before this stage, stopping the chrysalid from developing further. The threads are then collected from the hot water and spun into a raw silk.
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These days, most of the raw material purchased by Como silk houses comes from China or Brazil. This raw material is then processed into yarn by Italian manufacturers. It is carefully dyed and treated to ensure quality before it goes onto a silk press. The magic comes not from the initial yarn, but the processing and finishing which the Italians are famous for. This will be shown in the next blog entry.

Silk Production In Como Continued

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Above: The Silk thread which forms the weft is placed onto rollers which feed the silk into the machine. Up to 8 colours can be chosen to weave in and out of the warp which forms the base material.

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Above: The warp determines the quality and tightness of the weave. Generally, in jacquard woven silks, the higher the number of yarns per centimere, the greater the tightness of the weave. For example, a 112 yarn silk means that there are 112 individual yarns per centimetre. This means that if the silk machine makes rolls of 140 centimetres wide, then there are over 15,680 yarns which cover the span of the silk roll. Yarns can go all the way up to 200 yarns per centimetre, although the cost to produce such silks is usually price prohibitive.

Every single one of these yarns must not be broken in order for the machine to make a seemless run. Therefore, there are 15,680 steel pins which monitor the progress of the silk. Should one stran of silk break, the pin drops and the machine comes to halt requiring the operator to re-bind the thread. Production machines such as these produce 1 lineal metre of silk per hour.
As you can see, silk production is a tricky business, requiring dilligence, patience and intelligence.

The tradition of making fine silks has been with the Italians since the late 1600's, arriving firstly in Genoa. 300+ years later and silk remains one of the most highly sort after materials. It's protein make up similar to that of human skin, making it the preferred and most natural cloth for humans to wear.

Sadly, with even prestigious fashion production houses now moving more and more of their production to China, many of the once thriving mills have been forced to close, some taking their own businesses to China as well. This is a very sad time for the Italian silk industry as the lack of support from European nations as well as the world's continual dependency on Chinese low prices will see a decline in production of fine silks and limiting access to such goods to only the top end of the consumer market.

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Higher grade silks of approximately 155 yarns per cm.
A catalogue selection of polka dot silks.

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The Silk Weaving Machine - feeding through the warp as the machine runs the weft back and forth. This kind of technique is hundreds of years old though nowdays it runs more technically with the help of computers.

#3 Atgemis

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 05:09 PM

Looking At Silk With A Microscope
I was recently given a wonderful gift from a silk supplier in Como after presenting him with a bow from my new collection. It was a tiny magnifying glass which allowed me to view more closely the weave of the silks and enabled me to understand in greater depth the warp and the weft of the silk. In this image you will see that the polka dot strands are part of the weft whereas in some types of silk the warp will be a satin and the weft will form the polka dots.

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#4 Atgemis

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 05:13 PM

Silk Production Continued

See the video of a working Italian silk weaving machine here:
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The silk yarn is then processed into silk. A base colour is chosen which forms the WARP. The warp is the lenth of fabric fed through the silk machine. As the silk passes through the WEFT weaves the various alternate colours through to form the texture and pattern of the silk. In years gone by this was all done manually but today, with computers as good as they are, this tecnhique can be managed, in part, by computer generated opening and closing of valves which work in a similar technique to a piano which plays sheet music.




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