Producing Silk

      Silk is a fibrous substance produced by many insects principally in the form of a cocoon or covering within which the creature is enclosed and protected during the period of its principal transformation. Usually there are three crops per year of cocoons, Starting from July-August, September-October and November-December. Each crop acts as a seed cocoon for the next one till the third one has matured.

      There are two varieties of silk- pure silk and blended silk. The process before the silk is obtained starts with the laying of the egg by the mother moth followed by the emergence of the caterpillar or larvae which weaves a cocoon (also known as pupa or chrysalis) and then the yarn is procured. Silk worms are reared in different parts of India. There are various species of silk worms that are cultivated in India, the most popular being the mulberry silk moth of China-Bombay Mori - besides the Mooga, Tasar and Eri. Banaras is one of the leading silk sari producing centers of India. It is known for its heavy gold-silver brocades. Hair thin wires of gold and silver are obtained by heating the metal and passing it through minute holes. These wires are then used with silk yarn for weaving.

      The Amru silk brocades of Banaras are not only famous in India but also abroad. Jamvar, Navrangi (nine colors), Jamdani etc are other brocade types from the range of Banarasi saris. Patola silk saris are the pride of Gujarat. These saris are created by using the resist dying technique. There are two types of Patola saris. The Rajkot patola is only vertically-resist dyed (single ikkat), while the Patan patola is horizontally-resist dyed (double ikkat). The yarn is resist dyed before it is used in weaving. Patola saris are known for their flaming bright colors and geometric designs interspersed with folk motifs.

      Maharashtra is known for its Paithani silk saris, which generally come in kum-kum colors in combination with a contrasting color. Paithani are generally decorated with the gold dot or coin motif.

      Chanderi sari is known for soft colors and the harmonious balance between the border and the body of the sari. These saris are also known for their contrasting colors and the depiction of animal and human figures on them. Maheshwari sari is known for its elaborate patterns and border. These saris have exotic motifs done in zari and pleasant colors, both inspired by nature. Tussar silk or Kosa silk is valued for its purity and texture as it is available naturally in shades of gold-pale, dark, honey, tawny, beige, creamy, etc

Grading Silk

      Unlike cotton which is graded in counts, silk is graded in deniers. In cotton the lesser the count the thicker the material and the higher the count the thinner the material. While in silk it is the opposite with the lesser denier yearn producing a finer silk and a thicker denier producing a heavier silk. Today silk is not just restricted to saris. A wide range of ladies' and men's wear like dupattas, garments, fabrics, caps, handkerchiefs, scarves, dhotis, turbans, shawls, ghagras or lehengas, and even quilts, bedcovers, cushions, table-cloths curtains are made of silk.

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