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Our journey also takes us to Thailand, where the rustic production of Thai silk is similar to the methods used in South America. Unlike China, the production here is small-scale and most silk is hand-dyed in kettles then hand-spun by family groups and peasant cooperatives. Afterwards, each of our scarves, from accent strips of lustrous color to elegant silk bags, are woven piece by piece on wooden looms, then washed and pressed for shipment.
Silk is perhaps the world’s most unlikely fiber, and it has been for over six thousand years. It boasts a higher tensile strength than steel, which is why it has been used for bowstrings, parachutes and yes, even armor. Yet at the same time, silk possesses rare beauty and delicacy. While silk can be woven into fabrics as stiff as cardboard, it can also be made into gauzes so fine you can see right through them.
As you may already know, silk is made from the single continuous strand of the silkworm cocoon, some of which can be up to a half-mile long. The nature of that filament depends on the breed of silkworm and its diet, with mulberry leaves yielding the best quality.