Friday, November 9, 2012

China Adventure: The Silk Market

You can't visit China and not visit a silk market. Our tour took us next to a 'silk museum' which was a clever way to get us into a silk merchandise warehouse. We did learn a bit about those little silk worms, however.

Each silk worm spins their cocoon, which are the little white puffs you see in the photo below. The entire cocoon is about the size of cotton ball and is one continuous thread of silk. The machine below is unraveling that thread of silk and putting it on a spool so it can be used. The cocoons are sitting in water to soften them up so that the strand of silk doesn't break as the machine works.
The other way they use the silk is by forcing two worms to share a cocoon. The cocoon is a bit bigger as a result and is made up to two strands. These aren't unraveled but instead soaked and then stretched. The photo below is one of those cocoons that's been stretched and is now drying.
Once dry, the cocoon can be stretched further, which is what they're doing in the photo below. Layer after layer makes up the filling of a silk comforter which are said to be very light but still very warm.
After our brief tour through the 'museum' we were led to the WalMart like place you see below. Tons of silk products, comforters, comforter covers, screens, clothes, scarves ... We found a few things we liked, but very little we could afford. 

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