Monday, December 14, 2009

Suzhuo Silk Factory 4: Double-cocoons and Quilts

Around any silk factory in China there are always three sorts of cocoons on display: the spoilt, the single and the double. The double cocoons are where two silkworms have spun a cocoon together. Since the two threads are intertwined the silk cannot be reeled and so is used in a different way.

The cocoons are first soaked until soft and then broken open

and the pupae and waste removed.

The softened cocoon is then stretched over a form

layer after layer, and then allowed to dry.

This flattened dome of silk is then stretched by four people pulling at once

and again several layers are built up until there is enough for a quilt.

The wadding is then covered with zipped internal white cover and tacked into place.

I saw this quilt-making process again and again in China - in a couple of factories and also, strangely, in a department store in Shanghai.

The resulting quilt was light and warm (and also claimed to be anti-germ, anti-mildew and to have '19 kinds of essential microelements and 98% of protein for human body'). When covered with more silk it was also strikingly beautiful and I wished I'd had enough room in my bag to buy one.