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What do you guys think of silk farming at home? Anyone done it? Interest in made in America silk?

I'm seriously considering, I mostly want it for myself...
 

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I'm interested too for myself. So interested I was "forced" to plant a mulberry tree in my chicken pen. I'd love more information though.
 

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Interrobanger
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have you SEEN silk worms :yuck:?

I admit, I was at first romanced by the thought of growing my own little silk producers- I was thinking of something akin to a bin full of earthworms that would digest kitchen waste and make me tons of awesome compost-


then....


I saw the worms

they are big and fat and
:yuck: :yuck: :yuck:

you just go ahead. :grin:
 

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They look kind of fat maggots. I wonder if they smell? I've also been told they take lots of care. As in bedding changing once a week or you could loose the whole batch. And some some dye anyway and you have to use tweezers to remove them....

What I really want to know about is how bad is it to reel silk? I've been told that the process smells like boiled worms - wonder why.
 

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I visited a silk factory once,. Seems like I can remember them steaming the cocoons to kill the larvae and loosen the silk thread and then it was wound on bobbins. I guess if you don't boil them and let them hatch , you have to spin the fiber for thread.
 

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There was a fellow in Hilo who was giving away silk growing "kits" last spring, but there's all ready too much going on here to add in silk worms. Apparently, if you don't have a mulberry tree, there's some sort of commercial silk worm food you can buy.
 

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I planted mulberry trees too, but I cannot face the thought of boiling the worms to death:hrm:, though I believe that you can let them hatch (and lay more eggs?)

I was told that the boiling also loosens the threads so that they can be removed from the cocoon.

For the moment I am sticking to my cotton....the first little plants are poking through...but next month I will be planting a whole hectare:happy:
 

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Well, if you boil the silk cocoons you can "reel" the thread off as one incredibly long thread. If you let them eat their way out, you get much shorter threads, but that can be done too. But what are you going to do with that many silk worms if you don't kill them off? They lay eggs and then they pretty much die anyway, don't they? Some of them are usually allowed to hatch, mate and lay more eggs, though, but not all of them or there would be just way too many silk worms out there. You could look for recipes for the boiled worms or feed them to chickens if you didn't want to waste them. I think if you personally met a few silk worms, you'd not mind so much about boiling cocoons. They aren't cute or sociable critters. Kinda like nobody feels sad for killing a shark but nobody whats to kill off a porpoise. Silkworms are more of a caterpillar than a worm but they are still wiggly maggot like insects. If they were a cockroach or cotton boll weevil, you'd be all over for doing them in, no doubt?

The cotton from the newest batch of Sea Island seeds has made a flower and has started a boll, although the plant itself has only gotten to about two feet tall. The last test batch of cotton was up to five or six feet tall before it flowered. I'm not sure if it is true Sea Island or not, if it's gonna flower while so short. One of the seeds also came up with really different looking leaves. A very reddish looking leaf. It's also two feet tall, although it's not flowering yet. I've planted out some more seeds to see what sort of results show up. I don't want to plant a lot of them until I get one that is known to be really good. But, that's just my plan, yours may be different. It's definitely on a much bigger scale! How are you going to plant and pick that large of a cotton patch?
 

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Hi Kas. We have had a very hectic 5 weeks as we have had friends from England staying with us. It was lovely to see them and we have arranged for them to come again next year, but......all that extra work and cooking and translating!!!

And I gave them my laptop to use so need to do some serious catching up:happy:
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well, if you boil the silk cocoons you can "reel" the thread off as one incredibly long thread. If you let them eat their way out, you get much shorter threads, but that can be done too. But what are you going to do with that many silk worms if you don't kill them off? They lay eggs and then they pretty much die anyway, don't they? Some of them are usually allowed to hatch, mate and lay more eggs, though, but not all of them or there would be just way too many silk worms out there. You could look for recipes for the boiled worms or feed them to chickens if you didn't want to waste them. I think if you personally met a few silk worms, you'd not mind so much about boiling cocoons. They aren't cute or sociable critters. Kinda like nobody feels sad for killing a shark but nobody whats to kill off a porpoise. Silkworms are more of a caterpillar than a worm but they are still wiggly maggot like insects. If they were a cockroach or cotton boll weevil, you'd be all over for doing them in, no doubt?

I thought to feed them to my birds! Glad I'm not a heinous monster (or at least not the only one ;-) )

Ladies, learn me more about COTTON!

Here's how I spent my morning...

ImageUploadedByHomesteading Today1410042861.498876.jpg

And my loot!

ImageUploadedByHomesteading Today1410042871.637445.jpg
 

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I don't know about using the silk, but as a child I had "pet" silkworms and I got some for my kids a year or two ago.

They are fairly easy to raise, they don't need any kind of bedding.. you just put them in a box (shoeboxes work great) and change out the mulberry leaves once or twice a day and clean out the poop. They are harder to manage when they are very tiny, but much easier as they get bigger. If you put the fresh leaves on top of the older leaves they migrate to the fresh leaves and then you can pick those up and throw out the old leaves/poop.

No, no personality, but they don't have a serious ick factor I don't think. They are very slow moving.

One thing I did as a kid when I had leftover "hatched" cocoons from the previous year, was to cut out a shape like a heart from very stiff cardboard. Then you take that and put a nail through it so the head is flush with the cardboard, and then poke the nail into something that will hold the whole thing up. Once a silkworm starts silking, put it on the cardboard shape and it will silk the shape of the cardboard cutout (since there are no corners it can't cocoon.) Once the shape is built up enough you can offer the silkworm the used cocoon and it will usually go in and use the rest of its silk to seal off the hole from the previous silky and then begin its metamorphosis. Then peel the silken shape off the cardboard. It is really beautiful.

I considered boiling the cocoon so I could try spin off the silk, but couldn't bring myself to do that.
 

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Wow, that was a fun thread to read.
When I was in Thailand, I had the wonderful opportunity to go to a living history sort of place where they showed me all the steps to raising silk worms and making silk fabric.

They raised them in flat woven baskets about 3 feet in diameter and about 2 inches tall with flat bottoms. They put the mulberry leaves in the baskets and took out any old uneaten leaves when they wilted badly, making sure to not lose any of the worms.

There were several baskets placed in shelves in a wooden box on 2x4 legs. The feet of the legs were set in metal cans like coffee cans in a pond so that the silk worms were protected from marauding bugs and reptiles. The door was a screen door on hinges.

When the worms were finished making the silk, the person put them in a tub of water over a fire and the worms died and the silk kind of washed itself and unstuck. Then the person picked up the end of the silk on several cocoons, ran them through an eye hook attached to the table, then to a ball winder sort of thing, and unwound 20 or so at once. When the silk ran out, the person put the worms into another can to save for deep frying and eating.

They also showed weaving with the silk directly from the cocoons without spinning it first. It was nubby and pretty heavy for single threads, and just beautiful.

The silk had a smell, but the worms didn't. They were being raised outdoors, though, so any smell wouldn't have built up.

I just love the idea of raising them, and will have to see if the eggs are still available on ebay... Surely my biology-teacher son should have class pets, shouldn't he??
Kit
 

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If I remember from my brief fascination with the idea of silkworms, as has been said before if you boil them or kill them you can use the single string to wind off. If you let them hatch, it will dissolve one end to get out which will not allow you to do the single string, but you can spread them out to dry and that is where the silk hankies come from (if I recall correctly). It is considered to be lower quality silk, because I think it was also darker than that taken before hatching.
 

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Hi KitS! Welcome to The Fold!! I'm sure your son would love the experiment. You can also go to Worm Spit, I believe they may sell eggs or you can find a link to buying some. That's a great website to have for reference too. http://www.wormspit.com
 
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Hahaha! Well I only have it because someone else posted it eons ago. My brain will hold onto stuff like this but little else :nerd:
 
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Wow, that was a fun thread to read.


They also showed weaving with the silk directly from the cocoons without spinning it first. It was nubby and pretty heavy for single threads, and just beautiful.

The silk had a smell, but the worms didn't. They were being raised outdoors, though, so any smell wouldn't have built up.

I just love the idea of raising them, and will have to see if the eggs are still available on ebay... Surely my biology-teacher son should have class pets, shouldn't he??
Kit
My mother had a lovely suit made of "raw silk." It was fine until she got caught in a rain shower and the suit got damp. Then you could smell it from 20 feet away. No amount of dry cleaning or washing ever got that smell out.
I've seen raw silk since then and there must be a way to deoderize it as they didn't smell.
 
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