Silk caps, silk tops, mulberry silk, tussah silk, silk blends . . . they're all over my big table. I have a skein of wool-silk blend drying in the bathroom--that was my completed task yesterday. Today I'm spinning silk caps. Silk caps are basically stretched out degummed coccoons. I'm spinning a fine yarn, but with the slubs and texture that come from a relatively unprocessed source. I like that.
There was an animated discussion in class on Saturday about keeping silkworms. I thought every Australian child kept silkworms--or at least knew someone who did, but obviously I was wrong. I remember having a shoebox with silkworms as a child. They munched away at mulberry leaves at an incredible rate. When they were big enough they spun their coccoon and waited to turn into moths. The moths were not so exciting to a child's eye. They were dull in colour and all they did as far as I could see was flutter uselessly, lay eggs and die. I must have missed the critical moment of mating. Then there were lots of tiny little eggs waiting to hatch out the following year.I now know that those coccoons consisted of the marvelous looking shiny white stuff in the pic--mulberry silk. The other is tussah silk--you can see it's duller and rougher looking--but still, it's silk. The silkworms that make tussah silk feed on oak leaves. Silk tops are the cleaned and combed broken ends of coccoons.
OK, end of science lesson! I'm going to have another coffee and get back to my spinning.