About Thai Silk

Thai silk is generally regarded as the finest silk available. Hand-woven Thai silk is rightly celebrated for its unique beauty.

The characteristics of silk and the way it is processed and woven can result in many different types of silk fabric. Mizpah Silk believes it is important to understand the origin and nature of the product you buy. The Thai silk produced by Mizpah Silk has the following specifications and characteristics.

Yarn

The silk thread (or yarn) is produced by native Thai silkworms, Bombyx mori. The variety is referred to as polyvoltine, meaning it produces multiple generations in a year. The cocoon is yellow. Mizpah Silk does not use hybrid (poly-bivoltine) or foreign (bivoltine) varieties of silkworm.

The yarn is reeled by hand from the inner layers of the cocoon. It is type Mai 1 (ไหมน้อย or Mai Noi or Mai Kreu) silk yarn and is the highest possible quality of silk yarn. Mizpah Silk uses Mai 1 silk for both warp and weft yarns. (Warp yarns run the full length of the fabric; weft yarns run left-to-right across the fabric.)

To remove the silk thread from the cocoon, the cocoon must be put into very hot water, killing the larvae inside. However, nothing is wasted. Even the cooked larvae are eaten as a nutritious snack by the weavers.

Dyes

Mizpah Silk uses both natural and chemical dyes.

Natural dyes are made by hand from naturally occurring substances. Most commonly, plant materials (leaves, wood, bark, flowers, roots, etc) are used, but insects and minerals are also used at times. The dyes used by Mizpah Silk are made by the weavers using traditional methods. The seasons determine when certain plant materials are available and so not all natural colours are available all the time. To obtain a good spectrum of natural colours means making the dyes at various times throughout the year when the materials are in season and dying silk yarn at the time they are made.

Chemical dyes provide a large range of colours. Because many chemical dyes are hazardous to the health of the people using them and to the environment, the European Union and the German Government have banned certain compounds from chemical dyes used in those countries. Mizpah Silk uses only non-toxic, environmentally-friendly chemical dyes that are certified to comply fully with the stringent requirements specified by these governmental bodies.

Additionally, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, Queen of Thailand, has established a strict quality control programme for Thai silk. The programme protects the health, safety and well-being of the people making the silk at the same time as it sets high standards of quality for the fabric produced. Whilst it is not compulsory for people to follow the programme, Mizpah Silk chooses to meet or exceed all its requirements, including its choice of chemical dyes used and all other practices. The programme provides certification of silk fabric with the Royal Peacock logo.

We place the health, safety and well-being of our weavers above all else. We are also passionate about protecting the environment.

Weave

Mizpah Silk weavers use traditional handlooms to weave our cloth. These looms produce a fabric that is 102cm (40 inches) wide and up to 10 meters (10.9 yards) long. For practical reasons, a minimum length of four meters is normally made.

The cloth can be woven in a number of basic forms:

  • Single colour – the warp and weft yarns are the same colour
  • Shot – the warp and weft yarns are two different colours, producing a characteristic iridescent sheen
  • Mudmee – the warp is one colour and the weft is multiple colours, dyed so as to produce a distinctive pattern when loomed
  • Brocade – a richly decorative fabric, often including gold and silver threads, displaying ornamental features that appear to be embroidered, but are actually created by the specialised weaving process.

It is impossible to show the myriad varieties of mudmee. Many are traditional patterns from the regions around Thailand. Many are individual creations of the weavers. Their beauty can be subtle or stark. Beware – mudmees are addictive!

Similarly, the variety of brocades is enormous. As with mudmees, these ornate splendours are very addictive!

General

Here are some general characteristics of silk:

  • It absorbs moisture and may absorb a significant amount of moisture before feeling wet
  • Because it absorbs moisture well, it is less prone to static electricity
  • It has the natural property of keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer
  • It tends to fall naturally, allowing creases to fall out fairly easily, especially helped by a steamy environment like a bathroom
  • It is heat resistant and difficult to burn
  • It maintains its structural integrity well and does not rot
  • It has a tensile strength greater than steel, yet is somewhat elastic in nature and may be stretched by almost 20% of its length and still recover its original shape.

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