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Suzhou No. 1 Silk Factory

Suzhou No. 1 Silk FactoryThe No. 1 Silk Factory was founded in 1926 as a state-owned factory. Visitors will experience the amazing process that the silkworm creates its cocoon out of a single silk thread that is continuous for approximately 3,600 feet. Then you will see how the Chinese people produce silk with the old style machine, and the process of producing handmade silk quilt.

Arriving at the factory visitors would be ushered into a small conference room where a representative gave a brief talk about the process before they went into the factory to observe the process. In the conference room there are all of the various life-cycle stages of the silkworm preserved so that you could easily inspect them.

Suzhou No. 1 Silk FactoryThe factory showroom had many beautiful handmade silk rugs for sale, varying in size from a few feet to room size and prices from very cheap to super expensive.

Apparently silkworms prefer mulberry on which to build their cocoons. There are farmers in China is dependent on raising silkworms so they can harvest the cocoons. Once the cocoons have been spun by the silkworm they are hand-picked and placed in an oven. The heat of the oven is enough to kill the silkworm inside but not damage the silk in the cocoon. Once the silkworm is killed, the cocoons are soaked in water. Soaking them in water allows the workers to easily locate the end of the silk thread, necessary to unravel the silk thread from the cocoon.

The soaked cocoons., when ready, are then placed into a water tray in preparation for unraveling. A single thread is to thin to be of use and, therefore, multiple threads must be joined and unraveled to form a single thread. The worker locates the ends of eight cocoons. and combines them onto the spinning machine.

The spinning machine then automatically unravels the eight cocoons. simultaneously creating a single strand of silk from the eight cocoons. When the silk from the cocoons. has unraveled the cocoon shell, along with the dead silkworm inside, is left floating in the water basin and discarded. Once the silk has been removed the process becomes rather mundane again. Silk threads may be further combined to form thicker strands and are dyed to create the desired colors.

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