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coccoons and worms

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  • Rachel Sampsel
    My weaving instructor has a bag of silk coccoons waiting to be boiled – the cocoons rattle when shaken because the worm is shriveled up and dead inside. So
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2006
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      My weaving instructor has a bag of silk coccoons waiting to be boiled –
      the cocoons rattle when shaken because the worm is shriveled up and dead
      inside. So cocoons themselves “keep well” long after the worm is a moot
      point. A “live” worm in the cocoon is not a necessity for silk
      production, but it’s my understanding that the worm’s body, in one form or
      another still needs to be inside because creating an opening for the worm
      runs the risk of tearing the fiber and makes silk strand production even
      more difficult.

      Continuous strands of silk for production are created when the cocoon
      (with worm “alive” or dead) is boiled and the strand teased and drawn out
      of the water using a stick. The entire length of the resulting fiber is
      actually a varying degree of fine to coarse (fine being interior and
      coarse being exterior, I believe. It could be the other way. I haven’t
      done a lot of heavy studying on silk yet). The “quality” of the fiber is
      based on the point the worm is at in spinning his cocoon and is based on
      it’s metabolism as it winds out. So one end of any complete strand of
      just boiled silk will be coarse and the other will be fine (relative to
      the strand, not to other fibers).

      As for the animal husbandry aspect of it, I imagine that it is possible
      that there may be a way to “harvest” only the best specimens and keep them
      in an environment more favorable for becoming moths, but if you think
      about it, most caterpillars the world over don’t make it from cocoon to
      wings. Temperature, worm health and disease would play a big part into
      it, I believe. A frost, a heat wave, a sudden storm and it’s all over.
      Otherwise, the moths wouldn’t need to lay several hundred eggs at a time.

      Patches
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