•• s i l k & s a t i n
Silk is like magic: it is soft and floating but strong as steel. The secret to silk's strength
is the nature of its structure as a protein rather than a plant fiber. Silk strands are produced by
a variety of insects, but it is the silk cocoons from the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori that are prized above
others for the quality of the silk strands. In commercial silk production, mulberry silkworms are bred to
produce healthy eggs that hatch into larvae that consume 50,000 times their body weight in mulberry
leaves. (This sounds worse than it is; their body weight is on the order of a paper clip.) Once the silkworms spin their
cocoon, they are killed by immersion in hot ovens or boiling water to prevent them from cutting through the
silk strands of the cocoon when they emerge as a silk moth. This enables silk producers to unwind cocoons in
long single strands that tend to be stronger than "cut" counterparts. The silk strands are unwound and
reeled together to make silk fiber. There are four kinds of reeled silk thread: crepe (used for weaving crinkly
fabrics), organize and tram (used for warp and weft/filling, respectively, of heavier silk woven fabrics), and
thrown singles (used for sheer materials). Reeled silk is considered higher quality than spun silk, which is made
from waste filaments which are combed and processed into yarn.
Silk ribbons are the more common jewelry components. Hanah Silk™ are 100% silk ribbon cut on the
bias and hand-dyed for beautiful drape and coloring. I first saw these in an Art by Amy booth and I loved how
smooth, lightweight and brilliant they were! The edges are raw but not prone to fraying or unraveling like
satin ribbon. Another popular ribbon is a hand-dyed crinkle silk ribbon edged in thread, often of contrasting
color. I've used both and found both are lovely but tend to shrink with washing. (Silk is notorious for
its less than desirable behavior with water.)
Satin refers to a weave more than a material, and the satin cords I use are made of nylon or polyester more so than
silk. These cords tend to be less expensive and more robust to the elements.
Although other fibers like cotton and wool are not silk or satin, they are included here as natural fibers.
See the wrap bracelets
section for suggestions on wearing ribbon
necklaces as bracelets!