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Silk is the most elegant textile in the world with unparalleled grandeur, natural sheen, and inherent affinity for dyes, high absorbance, lightweight, soft touch and high durability and known as the “Queen of Textiles” the world over. On the other hand, Silk Production stands for livelihood opportunity for millions owing to high employment-oriented, low capital intensive and remunerative nature of its production. The very nature of this industry with its rural-based on-farm and off-farm activities and enormous employment generation potential has attracted the attention of the planners and policymakers to recognize the industry among one of the most appropriate avenues for socio-economic development of a rising country like Uganda. The highest quality silk available comes from silkworms produced from the Bombyx mori moth. They’re fed an exclusive diet of mulberry leaves, which is why the luxurious fabric is known as mulberry silk.
How big the reaping is
In commercial production, an acre of Sericulture Industry Value Chain offers a minimum of six job opportunities: one for mulberry cultivation, two in Silkworm rearing, one in post cocoon technology, one in making silk fabric and one in marketing of the silk fabric.
At an average of USD: 81 per farmer per month, each worker in Sericulture industry will earn USD: 97 from one acre of cultivated land by selling silk yarns. Going up the value chain; each kilogram of silk yarn produces 9.3 meters of pure silk cloth (grey fabric) whose price ranges from USD:10 to about USD:20 per meter. 180 kilograms of yarn can produce 1,674 meters which at a rate of USD: 10/meter results into USD: 16,740. A farmer when provided with a handloom for weaving cloth can thus earn USD: 16,740 an equivalent of from one acre by selling silk cloth but can even earn more if gets better price for the cloth especially if there is a mixture of mulberry yarn with yarn/threads from wild silk.
The silk production process
Rearing of silkworms for production of silk is called sericulture. It involves the following steps; First, the silkworm eggs are kept in conditions which favor them to hatch. After the eggs are hatched, the caterpillars are fed on freshly cut mulberry leaves. After eating for about 25 to 30 days, these caterpillars get to close themselves completely inside the silk cocoons in 2 to 3 days.The cocoons are boiled in hot water treated on an oven and fumigated to kill the larvae inside. These cocoons are placed in hot and cold water alternatively to choose in the filament. If the larvae are not killed and allowed to grow, they will break the cocoon thereby reducing the length of the fires.
Filaments are taken out from the cocoons and winding of elements onto a reel is done. The process of drawing silk fibre by inventing cone and converting it into silk air is called reeling. The end product is a skin of raw silk.
The silk threads are then dyed and woven into silk fabric.
What affects the quality of silk?
Rearing space: Lava growth is very fast and therefore requires sufficient and properly ventilated space, too much crowding in the rearing tray results in an increase in humidity, heat and fermentation of litter.
Leaf quality and quantity: leaf quality plays an important role in the production of quality cocoons since the quality of silk warms depends on the quality of the mulberry leaves they consume. These leaves are meant to be kept free from dust particles and water droplets.
Water used in reeling: if the quality of water used for boiling cocoons is poor, the impurities suspended in water stick to the silk and influence its color. The pH of water has to be kept in consideration.
Technique of stifling: cocoons having different sizes and qualities need different degrees of temperature for stippling. If stippling is done by sun drawing then it can damage the quality of silk due to the action of ultraviolet rays. Hot air conditioning is a better technique.
The silk properties that make it exceptional from other fabrics
Breathability: Silk is a lightweight, breathable fabric, which means it reduces the risk of overheating when you’re going about your day.
Elasticity: If they’re treated well, silk clothes are good at keeping their shape. Silk is flexible and has some elasticity to it which allows it to pull itself back into shape after stretching – to some extent. Don’t stretch silk unnecessarily or you may go too far.
Absorbency: Silk is fairly absorbent. Water weakens the fibres, though, so treat your silk carefully when you’re washing it. Cleanipedia has advice on that can help. If you’re using a fabric conditioner, you’ll want something gentle, such as Comfort Pure and should always check the item’s label for washing instructions.
Thermal regulation: Silk’s good at maintaining your body temperature which means it can help you feel cool in hot weather and warm in the cold. If you want a fabric that’s both thin and a good insulator, silk’s the way to go.
Drying speed: Silk is fast drying which makes it highly practical when managing your laundry or just going about your day-to-day business.
Shine: Silk fibres are smooth and straight, unlike wool, for example, which has a scaliness you’ll see if you put it under a microscope. This difference makes silk smoother to the touch and shinier to the eye, with an altogether luxurious feel.
The silk varieties to choose from
Silk is the only continuous filament, natural fibre, and like wool, it’s a protein-based fibre. The structure of silk depends on the fibre source, and this is usually either China or India. More often than not, silk used in apparel is cultivated ‘raw silk’ comprised of two smooth and transparent filament rods with a triangular-shaped cross-section (this gives silk its characteristic lustre scroopy feel – it makes a rustling sound when you rub it between your fingers!). Wild (Tussah) silk is different in appearance (coarser, thicker, flatter & broader with fine surface lines. Together, all of these properties contribute to the lustrous look, excellent drape, and luxurious feel of silk.
Of course, the properties of silk can depend on the types of silk fabric you’re working with. Here are some common silk material types you might come across. Some of these fabrics can also be made of polyester or nylon as a more affordable alternative.
Chiffon is translucent, very light and a lot of fun to swish around. It tends to need gentle care.
Crêpe de chine is a textured fabric, slightly rough to the touch. It’s less reflective than many silks, so it’s a good choice if the sheen and smoothness of other silk fabrics isn’t your thing. It’s versatile and can be used in anything from trousers to lingerie.
Dupion is dense, lustrous silk fabric, a little heavier than some different types of silk. It’s often used for formal wear. It’s sometimes woven with threads of multiple colors, which can create an iridescent effect. If you’ve got a silk jacket that looks blue from some angles and green from others that might be dupion.
Habutai is a straightforward silk weave that comes from Japan. It’s often used in linings.
Organza is a sheer fabric, very thin and used for evening wear.
Charmeuse is a type of satin, which means it’s woven in a particular way that gives it a striking sheen. It’s soft, loose and easy to move in, great for an evening gown.
Taffeta can hold its shape better than many types of silk fabric, which makes it good for elaborate ball gowns or even wedding dresses.
Velvet made completely of silk is hard to get your hands-on, so you’re more likely to find it mixed with rayon. Velvet’s pile is very soft to the touch, and its color can sometimes change depending on whether you’re rubbing it with or against the grain. Give it a try; it’s fun!
Silk’s an incredible fabric. It’s lightweight, it catches the eye, and the many tempting properties of silk mean that it feels great to wear. With so many types of silk fabric to choose from, you’re bound to find something to your tastes.
The government of Uganda has embraced the silk business through the State House Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovations in the name Commercialization of Sericulture Technologies and Innovations in Uganda under the implementation of Tropical Institute of Development Innovations (TRIDI).