Pongee, Habotai and several other silk fabrics are neither stiff nor limp, they hang in graceful curves. Silk fabrics flow well over your body and lie in beautiful folds. Silk is therefore ideal for floaty scarves and elegant clothes, as it drapes well.
4. Silk comes in brilliant colours
Silk is made by an animal and it is a protein fibre. Protein fibres take natural dyes better than the cellulose fibres from plants. Silk takes dyes particularly well producing luminescent and brilliant colours that shine like jewels. Mulberry silk, which is white, gives you purer colours. Tussah silk has tannin and the natural honey colour can give greater depth to the colour.
In contrast to wool, silk is extruded on demand and has no cellular structure. This makes silk very smooth and sensuous to the touch. Under the microscope, you can see that wool is covered in scales like tiles on a roof, while linen appears to have joints similar to the nodes on a bamboo. Wool, cotton and linen are all growing fibres and they all have a cellular structure.
6. Silk has great strength
Silk is a very long, continuous fibre, up to 1,300 metre in length, which gives it great strength. This makes it possible to weave very light fabrics, as even fine silk yarns are strong. Wool, cotton and linen yarns are made of short lengths of fibre which are overlapped at the ends and therefore not so strong.
Silk adds lustre, drape, softness and strength to fibre blends. You need a blend with at least 30% of silk to be able to feel the silk and 50% to both feel and see the silk. Silk blends well with many fibres, giving you the best of both fibres. Try blending silk with wool, alpaca, camel, and even cotton. You may find it easier to use tussah silk in blends than mulberry silk.
8. Silk has a rich history
Silk has a very long and interesting history. Silk has been used for over 5,000 years in China, and for much of this time it was surrounded by myth and secrecy. Anyone caught trying to smuggle silkworms from China faced the death penalty. The ‘Silk Road’ was a very important land-based trade route for nearly two thousand years.
Wool production is about 2 million tonnes whilst cotton is 25 million tonnes. In comparison, silk is an exclusive fibre. The worldwide production of silk is about 100 thousand tonnes, with China being the main producer, followed by India and other countries. The rearing of silk worms and reeling of silk is a labour intensive process which is reflected in the price of silk.