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That Magnificent - WORM!

Updated on August 29, 2009

Several years ago while earning a living and thinking what all those things I would do when the day came that I could retire. Most people would say that they would travel. Well my job required that I travel all over the U.S, so that was not on my to-do list. All those canceled flights sitting and sleeping in airports for what seemed like forever . No I just wanted to sit back and do what ever the day offered with out flying off some where.

My Cajun grandfather who could neither read or write, (My Cajun Man) hub, had a saying that "if the hands are busy then the mind will follow." So i tried to always take along a knitting bag. This made me think of the fibers that are spun and woven into our clothes. It was then that I took closer notice of the people that hurried past me, not to where they might be going but what they were wearing, colors and fabric.

In one of my trips to Arizona I had the opportunity to see a Navajo woman spinning wool for a rug. This fascinated me and as I observed her pulling and stretching the wool fiber while she spun it into a perfect uniform size. I asked her several questions. How tight do you hold the fiber? How do you keep it the same size? She never stopped or took her eyes off of her task. She simply replied, "The hands know."

Finally the day came when I could do those things that I wanted to do. The fashion trend at that time was silk. This is my favorite still today so I began to explore this avenue. I wanted to learn to spin silk fibers. Now most people would sign up and take classes on the subject that they wanted to learn. Just call me a REBEL or stubborn because I am not one to follow the herd.

First I went out and bought a spinning wheel. With that now in front of me I was determine that I could conquer this wheel that spun around and those words that the Navajo woman said that I had tucked into the back of my mind, came forth and soon the hands knew.

Silk fabric was first developed in ancient China, possibly as early as 6000BC. At present, world production of silk is nearly as great as at previous time, and it is increasing. Japan produces about 20,000 tons of raw-reeled silk a year and uses more that she can produce. Japan, Russia, India and China are all encouraging silk production their spheres of influence to increase their supply of raw material.

India produces large amounts of both cultivated and wild silks, most of which is used within the area. In much of the country sericulture and silk weaving are practiced on small village scale, as they have been for millennia. India is probably the only place in the world where a large portion of pattern weaving is still done on hand and foot operated looms.


Silk moths lay eggs on specially prepared paper. The eggs hatch and the caterpillars (silkworm) are fed fresh mulberry leaves. After about 35 days and 4 moltings, the caterpillars are 10,000 times heavier than when hatched, and are ready to begin spinning a cocoon. Straw type frame is placed over the tray of caterpillars, and each caterpillar begins spinning a cocoon by moving its head in a figure 8pattern. Two glands produce liquid silk and force it through openings in the head called spinnerets. The liquid silk is coated in sericin, a water-soluble protective gum and solidifies on contact with the air. It takes 2-3 days for the caterpillar to spin about 1 mile of filament and is completely encased in a cocoon. The caterpillars are then killed by heat.



There was a time when silk raising was introduced to America.  Yet it has never been commercially successful, although  the climate is excellent.  The high cost of labor is a major reason.

The sparkle of the silk has a fascinating advantage.  While mostly smooth, it does have some irregularities.  These break up the reflected light and produce the sparkles.  As a medium for color, silk is unsurpassed.  Silk colors are as beautiful as flowers and it is easy to dye.  I particularly like to blend silk in with other fibers such as Merino wool and alpaca and then dye it and the silk takes to the dye in a different manner and the high lights and sparkle make it unique.

Another option that I really like is to purchase Silk Hankies  which are made from a silk cocoon that is opened at one end and stretched across the hand into a square.  These can be dyed with several color blending to give an awesome effect.  Using silk in a hand made gift for that special person says much more than words on a store bought card.



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    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 8 years ago

      Thanks Teresa, as they say "the spice of life--is variety." You also write on many subjets and I too enjoy them. I think you have met the rest of my wacky family that are hubbers---Jerilee wei and Ryanobie and I'm the sane???one.

    • Teresa McGurk profile image

      Sheila 8 years ago from The Other Bangor

      Ginn -- what a wonderful hub. You are a fascinating person, ya know that? I look forward to seeing what you write next, as it's bound to be something different and interesting.

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 8 years ago

      Christa, you will love it! It just takes practice and the hands will know.

    • Christa Dovel profile image

      Christa Dovel 8 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Learning to spin is the next craft on my list of thing to know. Thank you for the informative hub. Silk worms are amazing!

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 8 years ago

      Thanks G-Ma, I too believe in learning new things--New & Old.

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 8 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Yes and I learned how to weave baskets, that would hold water, from pine needles...and how to felt wool...and make dolls and many things...The plain, wonderful old ways are so lost these days...Thanks for a great hub my dear...G-Ma :o) Hugs & peace

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 8 years ago

      Jerilee, yes and I wonder how many people ever think about what our fore-fathers had to do to just make cloth. (most of them today would just have to wear a FIG-LEAF?

      Aya I'm glad you enjoyed it. No I don't raise them only because there preferred food is white mulberry leaves and I don't have access to these. They will feed on other types of mulberry but they will not produce useable silk.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

      Gin Navarre, great hub on a fascinating topic. Do you raise silk worms? Is it true that they prefer mulberry leaves?

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States

      It's always been fascinating to me in how little most people know about what it takes to have silk from those magnificent worms. Video was very straightforward, the way it should be. Great hub mom!