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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Along the silk road....

Yesterday's post reminded me of a visit to an Anatolian rug factory a number of years back where I saw a demonstration of how silk thread is made.  It starts with hundreds of cocoons of mulberry silkworms that are soaked in a vat of water to soften them up.  The dead worm can be heard rattling inside the cocoon if you shake it (silk-wearing vegans take note).  After the cocoon gum softens, a "threader" will use a whisk to "grab" the ends of silk threads off the cocoons and drape the filaments onto a reeling machine.  It seems like this should be really difficult but it happens quite easily.  A single cocoon can give up to 1500 m (almost a mile!) of filament, 4 to 18 strands of which are then twisted together to make a silk thread.

The finished product, a Hereke silk rug with the one of the highest knot counts in the world (wish I had written down the number).  The photo doesn't do the spectral vibrancy of this carpet justice.   This is a rug connoisseurs put on their wall.

And quite a bit more down-market, but still hand-knotted (with wool), here's the runner I bought....I think it looks very Arts and Crafty.

and a few more for flavor....