The Silk Diaries: Adventures in Cambodia

Last week’s post about spring color trends in fashion reminded me of the chartreuse silk scarf that Annie brought back for me from her recent family trip to Vietnam and Cambodia.  She bought the scarf at a silkworm farm in Cambodia, which prompted me to do a little research to refresh my memory of the process of silk making.

We all know from a consumer standpoint that silk is a more expensive fabric, but why is that? Well, the production of silk is a long and tedious process, making it a very valuable fiber in the end. The process begins with a silkworm caterpillar creating a cocoon for itself, which is made out of lengthy and strong fibers, as you can see in the photo above. Typically in nature a moth would develop from this cozy cocoon, but when being formed for silk, the cocoon is steamed in order to eliminate the inner larva.

Each silk worm’s cocoon contains up to 3,000 feet of functional silk fibers which, in it’s raw stage contains a product called sericin. Sericin is a gummy material, eventually boiled off to create what we commonly know as delicate, soft, luxurious silk! As one unwinds the silk strands from the cocoon, they’ll twist a few strands from separate cocoons into one to create a thicker multifilament yarn that is eventually used to make your favorite silk blouse!

Not only is the process intriguing, the vibrant colors, different textures, and the patterns of the tools used to produce the silk are visual inspirations to us here at AJK Design Studio. Annie’s experiences and photos like the one above from her recent trip to Southeast Asia will inspire her upcoming collection, so stay tuned!  

“Sericulture: Silk Production.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, edited by Kara Rogers, www.britannica.com/topic/sericulture. Accessed 26 Mar. 2019.