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Friday, May 14, 2010

Silk Production In Como Continued

Above: The Silk thread which forms the weft is placed onto rollers which feed the silk into the machine. Up to 8 colours can be chosen to weave in and out of the warp which forms the base material.

Above: The warp determines the quality and tightness of the weave. Generally, in jacquard woven silks, the higher the number of yarns per centimere, the greater the tightness of the weave. For example, a 112 yarn silk means that there are 112 individual yarns per centimetre. This means that if the silk machine makes rolls of 140 centimetres wide, then there are over 15,680 yarns which cover the span of the silk roll. Yarns can go all the way up to 200 yarns per centimetre, although the cost to produce such silks is usually price prohibitive.

Every single one of these yarns must not be broken in order for the machine to make a seemless run. Therefore, there are 15,680 steel pins which monitor the progress of the silk. Should one stran of silk break, the pin drops and the machine comes to halt requiring the operator to re-bind the thread. Production machines such as these produce 1 lineal metre of silk per hour.
As you can see, silk production is a tricky business, requiring dilligence, patience and intelligence.

The tradition of making fine silks has been with the Italians since the late 1600's, arriving firstly in Genoa. 300+ years later and silk remains one of the most highly sort after materials. It's protein make up similar to that of human skin, making it the preferred and most natural cloth for humans to wear.

Sadly, with even prestigious fashion production houses now moving more and more of their production to China, many of the once thriving mills have been forced to close, some taking their own businesses to China as well. This is a very sad time for the Italian silk industry as the lack of support from European nations as well as the world's continual dependency on Chinese low prices will see a decline in production of fine silks and limiting access to such goods to only the top end of the consumer market.

Higher grade silks of approximately 155 yarns per cm.
A catalogue selection of polka dot silks.


The Silk Weaving Machine - feeding through the warp as the machine runs the weft back and forth. This kind of technique is hundreds of years old though nowdays it runs more technically with the help of computers.

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