Hand-Woven Silk Methodology

Preah Vihear in Northern Cambodia, is home to a small co-operative of talented weavers who weave our beautiful silks for us. This co-operative was set up by an American veteran to provide funding for prosthetics for landmine victims. The area was the focus of an intense bombing campaign during the Vietnamese war. This was immediately followed by the devastating effects of the Cambodian civil war, where landmines were used indiscriminately. 

It is estimated that there are 40,000 amputees in Cambodia and landmines are still a risk today with an estimated 8-10 million lying still unexploded. The co-operative has evolved to support not only those disabled by bombs but also the victims of polio. 

The region is extremely poor and today the number of weavers is declining as there is not enough work for them. It is our aim to help support them by providing work.

Every metre of silk we design and order through them has an immense impact upon their lives and that of their extended families.

1

MULBERRY TREES & SILK COCOONS

Creating silk yarn is a process with many individual stages. Watching the work that goes into producing just one silk thread, is to understand why silk has been so highly prized century after century.

The White Mulberry tree, an ancient native of China is home for Bombyx Mori, more commonly known as the silk worm.  The female moth lays as many as 50,000 a time, on the leaves and as with the life cycle of all moths, the eggs will soon hatch into caterpillars, feeding on the leaves of the Mulberry until they feel ready to spin an intricate cocoon around themselves.

2

COCOON TO THREAD

Around 500 silkworms/80kg of cocoons and 200kg of mulberry leaves are required to produce 1kg of raw silk.

The cocoons are gently boiled and their threads delicately and individually unraveled. The outer cocoon produces raw silk, whereas the threads from the inner cocoon produce finer silk.

3

YARN DYEING

The silk threads are spun into hanks to ensure even colouring during the washing and dyeing process. The hank will be thoroughly washed before starting the dyeing process.

We use both natural and chemical dyes – when using chemical dyes, we ensure to use the most environmentally friendly options. The hank will be dipped in and out of the dye pot a number of times according to the intensity of the colour required. 

4

SPINNING

Once the yarn is dyed and dried, it is ready to be spun onto bobbins. The hank will be spread onto a wheel and the threads wound off onto a bobbin in one continuous length. From here the yarn can be taken off ready to be made into the warp or used as the weft threads.

5

LOOM THREADING & WEAVING

Preparing a loom before each project is no mean task! It requires much patience and practice. There will be hundreds, sometimes thousands, of tiny silk threads needing to be threaded through the needle like heddles on the loom, from back to front.

When this process is complete, it is time to start the joy of weaving! Weaving is an art form and watching a fabric unfold in front of you eyes, from tiny individual threads, is utterly magical.

6

FABRIC FINISHING

Once cut from the loom, the woven fabric is passed onto the finishing team who will hand wash, check, iron, add tassels, sew the edges and tie any knots. 

From the cultivation of Mulberry trees, to moths laying eggs, to caterpillars and cocoons, from cocoons to threads, threads to looms; what an incredible journey it is to produce such an exquisite, lustrous and deservedly prized length of fabric.

 

BESPOKE

Our in-house Textile Designer would love to work with you on your projects.

Please get in touch, we look forward to hearing from you.