History of the use of Silk :
The Chinese has used silk since the 27th century B.C.. Silk is mentioned by Aristotle and became a valuable commodity both in Greece and Rome. During the Roman Empire, silk was sold for its weight in gold. The Chinese domesticated silk worms and fed them with mulberry leaves. They unwound the silkworms’ cocoons to produce long strands of silk fiber
Farm women in China at that period were supposed to raise such silkworms as one of their chores. Silk was used in China and exported along the Silk Road (the ancient trade route linking China and the Roman Empire). This trade brought China great wealth, but the Chinese did not give away the secret on how silk was formed.
Christian monks finally broke China’s monopoly of the silk production by smuggling silkworm eggs out of the country, and soon other countries started to produce their own silk.
Production of silk :
Silkworms are cultivated and fed with mulberry leaves. Some of these eggs are hatched by artificial means such as an incubator, and in the olden times, the people carried it close to their bodies so that it would remain warm.
Silkworms that feed on smaller, domestic tree leaves produce the finer silk, while the coarser silk is produced by silkworms that have fed on oak leaves. From the time they hatch to the time they start to spin cocoons, they are very carefully tended to. Noise is believed to affect the process, thus the cultivators try not to startle the silkworms
Their cocoons are spun from the tops of loose straw. It will be completed in two to three days’ time. The cultivators then gather the cocoons and the chrysales are killed by heating and drying the cocoons.
Care of your silk :
It is best to dry clean your silk garment either by individual or bulk method, in order to maintain the characteristic of the silk
Dry clean : Sending it to the dry cleaners may be done but make sure that you inform the dry cleaner that your garment is made of silk.
Hand wash :
1) Make sure you wash in cool water.
2) Use a small amount of soap or mild detergent to wash the silk.
3) After washing it, rinse in cold water.
4) Hang it or lay it flat in a shaded area to dry.
5) If pressing is needed, use an all cotton iron board cover, a low or moderate steam setting, and press on the wrong side of the fabric while ironing.
Other Tips :
To keep white silk white, add peroxide and ammonia to the wash.
Do not use bleach or any washing detergent with bleach
To remove yellow from white silk, add a few teaspoons of white vinegar to the wash..
Properties of the silk :
1)It is versatile and very comfortable.
2)It absorbs moisture.
3)It is cool to wear in the summer yet warm to wear in winter.
4)It can be easily dyed.
5)It retains its shape and is relatively smooth.
6)It has a poor resistance to sunlight exposure.
7)It is the strongest natural fiber and is lustrous.
Silk is used to make blouses, dresses, scarves, pants and ties. It can also be made into curtains, draperies, cushion covers and sofa covers.