Monday, 11 April 2011

Nepalese Silk

The photo above shows two varieties of cocoon. The bright yellow colour of the cocoon on the right is totally natural, but yields less fibre than the white cocoon. Each cocoon is made from one long continuous fibre, the white producing between 1000 to 1500 metres and the yellow only producing around 600 metres.

Our silk products, most notably our silk scarves, are produced in India and imported into Nepal. This is a situation that we are hoping to change with the help of Tej (an instructor of silk production). Tej works for a government-run silk factory in Banepa, just outside Kathmandu and also produces silk yarn at his home.

Spinning the silk fibres by hand is a time consuming task, especially if you wish to maintain the same quality and size of yarn. Our use of silk allows for the silk worm to be removed from the cocoon, whereas other forms of yarn production require an undamaged cocoon to be boiled before unravelling.
One of the many aspects of silk production that Tej teaches to remote villagers is how to prepare silk for long term storage. The above photo shows the cocoon being loosened in water then stretched onto a wooden frame. Upto 250 cocoons can be spread onto the frame and left to dry. Many of the remote villagers tend to supply Tej with cocoons in the natural state after cutting open the cocoon to remove the silkworm.

The above photo shows Kiran, our dyeing master, and Tej, the silk expert, discussing the finer details of silk fibre.