Silkworms are fed mulberry leaves and spin a cocoon around themselves before becoming a moth.
Each cocoon has a continuous filament of 1000 metres. The cocoons are boiled then unravelled and three filaments spun together to make a continuous yarn. The weight of silk is measured in grams or momme.
28 grams = 1oz
8mm = 1oz
A lightweight silk is considered to be under 20mm, a medium weight silk is up to 28mm and anything over that is heavyweight. Although 90% of the world’s silk yarn comes from China the best silk yarns are woven in either Japan or Italy. Silk is a smooth soft textured yarn, with a high tensile strength. It is supple and has a natural elasticity. Silk is a protein fibre and a non-conductor of heat, similar to wool which makes it suitable for all climates.
A natural absorbent, it is a great fabric in warm weather and also good at accepting dye colour. Due to its smooth finish it’s not always a fabric for gentlemen’s tailoring, except in the tropics. The introduction of silk yarn into worsted wool tailoring fabrics adds to the lustre and soft handle.