What is more delightful to someone obsessed with textiles and pattern on mass than a Kaftan? Yards of fabric draped around the body where the more colour, the better (in my book anyway). A garment where the fabric is truly king. I found this wonderful post with a summation of the history of the Kaftan and some visual delights. Enjoy The Kaftan: Between Past And Present.
This is my second myth-busting post about silk. This time it is about silk manchester/bedding with the help of Silk Lova.
1: Silk sheets are slippery. MYTH!
Silk sheets do have less friction than your typical cotton sheets. However you will not slip off of silk sheets and onto the floor. This myth is perpetuated because silk sheets are often mistaken for impostor satin "silks" that are made from polyester which can be very slippery. FACT: Real silk sheets, on the other hand, have a very soft feel to them.
2: Silk sheets require dry cleaning.MYTH!
High quality silk sheets can be machine washed on a cold gentle cycle in cold water and do not require dry cleaning. BUT you must ensure your detergent is silk-friendly. Continued washing of silk sheets will cause the loss of some of their luster, but will actually become softer. FACT:many people find that they like their silk sheets more after they have been washed a few times.
3: Silk sheets will shrink when washed. MYTH! I touched on this topic in myprevious myth-busting post. High-quality silk sheets will not shrink when washed IF they are cared for correctly. If your sheets fit your bed correctly before washing, they will still fit the same after washing.
4: Silk sheets will catch my skin. MYTH!
This is another case of mistaken identity. Satin “silk” from polyester is both slippery whilst still catching your skin if you have areas of rough and callused skin. FACT: 100% pure silk sheets will not catch your skin the way polyester "silk" does.
5: Silk sheets are a modern-day invention.MYTH! I
Silk from the mulberry silk worm has been cultivated for over 5,000 years. Initially silk was so expensive and difficult to produce, only the emperors and their closest family members were able to afford it. Eventually silk production increased and became a major currency in trade between the East and West, creating what is referred to as the Silk Road. See my post for more interesting history.
6: Silk is inexpensive to produce. MYTH!
The reason silk costs a little more than your average set of sheets is because production requires thousands of silk cocoons to be unrivaled and spun into silk thread or yarn. Between 3,000 – 5,000 cocoons are used, on average, to produce one pound of silk.
Silk is luxurious, soft, sensual and appears as delicate as it feels. So should silk remain in the hands of the delicate and the fair ladies and gentlemen of the world? Not at all! The nature of silk is commonly misunderstood. Not only is silk incredibly strong, it stands up to the not-so-delicate and the not-so-fair in us all. Silk, you see, actually resists dirt and stains. Hard to believe, but true nonetheless. A single silk fiber has a tensile strength equal to steel wire of the same diameter! If you have a favourite shirt, dress or scarf that does not seem to live up to this fact, it may be that either your garment or homeward item is not real silk, or that it is simply being treated improperly.
The downside, I hear you say, is that silk shrinks after washing. Not entirely true. The silk thread itself does not shrink. Washing silk fabric that is loosely woven will, however, tighten up the weave and make the product look smaller.
Silk can be dry or hand washed. Rule number one - don't leave silk in the sun to dry!
Browsing through Ecouterre today I found out about British lingerie-maker Ayten Gasson capsule collection of cruelty-free underwear. Stitched in one of England’s last remaining underwear factories, these vintage-inspired knickers comprise Ahimsa or “peace” silk (the production of which leaves the silk worm/moth unharmed. See my page for more information). Heralded as the first designer to use peace silk in lingerie, Designer Ayten Mustafa is proud of the progression of their products to be increasingly "eco-freindly":
“Research into eco-silks was a natural progression into making the label a 100 percent ethical brand ... Mixing peace silks with vintage cotton laces, all produced in the U.K., was the ideal design pieces to me—something I would be proud to design, make, and put my name too (sic).” (Source: Ecouterre).
Ayten Gasson's website identifies these products as under the "Eco Lingerie" banner, highlighting the use of vegan peace silk as a major innovation for silk lovers who are also concerned with their environmental ethics. Continuing their to use Organic and Peace Silk the Eco Lingerie collections, they are also researching organic dyes and natural printing methods which they hope to introduce over the next couple of seasons.
When asked why she chose to design lingerie, Ayten describes how she worked in a well-known high street lingerie chain while studying for her degree. She would see the lovely designs in the shop that were made out of cheap fabrics and imported, synthetic laces. Growing up knowing the history behind the UK textile industry and high quality fabrics, she thought it was a shame that these companies were not supporting the UK fashion and manufacturing trade. This fuelled her passion for lingerie design and for supporting other UK manufacturing businesses.
In just over two weeks I will be working with British born Sydney based textile artist Jo Fowles at my local textile hub, Harvest Workroom. Joanna's work is primarily process driven with a focus on hand elements and mixed media. She experiments with large-scale mark making, wood, paint, dye, shibori, photography and screen-printing techniques to produce abstract geometric digital craft designs. Over three days will Jo will take myself and a small group through experiments with mark making, dye, shibori and open screen-printing techniques to produce exciting hand crafted work.
Images of what I can expect to encounter can be found on Jo's blog! I'm ready to get my hands dirty (literally).
(Image source: Harvest Textiles)
I always knew that drinking tea was a vital act. Everything seems better, brighter and easier with a cup of tea in your hands. A recent discovery I made (whilst drinking a cup of tea, of course) was that the discovery of silk and tea drinking are, according to legend, linked!
Chinese legend has it that Empress Hsi Ling Shi, wife of Emperor Huang Ti, the "Yellow Emperor", was the first person to discover silk as weavable fiber whilst sipping tea under a mulberry tree. A cocoon fell into her cup and began to unravel. She discovered the source of the cocoon - the Bombyx mori silkworm. The empress soon developed the cultivation of silkworms which included the invention of the reel and loom.
Silk slowly spread beyond the exclusive use by Chinese royalty and began to permeate Chinese culture and regions throughout Asia. Demand for the exotic fabric (considered to be more precious than gold at the time) eventually created the famous trade route the Silk Road which connected Eastern China to the Mediterranean Sea. The Chinese realized the value of the material they were producing and kept its secret safe from the world for over 30 centuries.
See! Good things come from drinking tea.
Welcome (you) to my blog. And welcome (me) to blogging! I have never blogged before and I am already a bit confused about the interface but I'm sure my site will be glossy and marvelous in no time. I want to write about the uses and origins of silk. I will be working with silk this month and this has sparked my interest in ethical silk and therefore ethical fashion more broadly. This is a timely concern considering the recent 'fast fashion' factory collapse in India.
I am also interested in the durable and luxurious fabrics we wear and furnish our homes with. My partner is vegan (aspirational) and I have been increasingly moving away from animal based foods and wares. I was shocked to learn that popular industry methods of obtaining silk were fairly gruesome. And there you have the seed of an idea for this blog!
I will be simultaneously investigating the amazing qualities of silk, working creatively with silk as well as other mediums, and attempting to find out to what extent ethical, or 'peace silk' is readily available, and in fact truly ethical.