Silkworms generally feed on mulberry leaves, shown below, although wild silk is produced when silkworms feed on oak leaves.
They can produce up to a mile of filament in two or three days, which it uses to create a cocoon before transforming into a moth. In order to harvest silk, workers boil the cocoon, killing the larvae (poor baby moths!). The filaments are then reeled and then spun into yarn.
What makes silk so luxurious? Silk possesses many qualities not found in other fabrics:
- It has a "dry hand," meaning that it feels dry to the touch
- It is naturally shiny and lustrous
- It tends to absorb moisture well
- It is supple and drapes easily
- It is very strong
Despite the fact that silk filaments are very fine, the fiber is long, and smooth (as shown below), which helps to give silk its softness, shine, and strength.