Silk and silkworms

The gray mass in this image is made of voracious silkworms waiting to be fed.  The several tables in this small barn are covered with heaps of these wriggling, crawling creatures.  They fascinate me.  I’ve seen several shows recently that cover the topic, but none have shown how some care for the huge volume of worms.  Now I know.

I’ve also learned through this show (Furusato on NHK),  that I have Mulberry growing wild in my own yard.  Until now I wasn’t sure, but I’ve found several places in both front and backyard where I have small shoots coming up.  I’m thinking I should transplant them and create my own Mulberry patch.

What interested me though, was the process: how the silk threads were caught up and removed from the cocoon for spinning. The young woman used a bamboo brush, stirring the boiling cocoons vigorously until the threads caught. Then she attached them to a reel and wound them up.

In this image, she is preparing to remove the lid from the pot where the cocoons are boiling. To the right is her tool for reeling.  I don’t know if it’s something made commercially or whether her father (not seen in any of these images) made it for her (or perhaps she made it herself!). At any rate, I can’t help but speculate about doing that kind of thing. It has a kind of appeal. I might have to move to the country.

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2 Responses to “Silk and silkworms”

  1. Velma Says:

    I’ve actually reeled silk just like in the photos. And I’ve collected wild silk cocoons (from local moths) and spun tiny thread samples with them. Do you know the Aurora Silks site? You can purchase Peace Silk cocoons from her; in order to reel silk you must kill the worm; I believe Peace Silks don’t kill the worm.
    I always enjoy Ito de.

  2. sofennell Says:

    Wow! That’s something I haven’t done, but would love to try it. I did collect cocoons last spring and had the chance to watch that metamorphosis to the moth stage. I collected the eggs, which I have in my ‘fridge at the moment. She lost her cocoons over the summer, so she has mine and eventually (I hope) we’ll get together to reel the silk. If we can’t get together, we may have to plot to bring our students in on it and make it a class experience.

    And thank you so much for your affirmation and compliment! I appreciate it.

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