An Interesting Addition: Silk Cocoons

Recently I was shopping silk for my family, and since I used to work with Lilysilk I was receiving a lot of promotional emails about them. One of the more interesting items I saw was something they called “Beauty Cocoons”.

Now, being a man, I didn’t really care much for beauty aside from the occasional Vaseline smearing on my face when I’m heading out in winter, but somehow these caught my attention. I was thinking of getting some for my girlfriend before I discovered, to my pleasant surprise, that Lilysilk included a sample of 10 cocoons in the pillowcase bundle I got from them. Free stuff is always welcome.

Now, my girlfriend was out of town and curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to give the cocoons a try (hey, gotta be the gentleman and taste the poison right). So I did what I was instructed. After soaking the cocoons in lukewarm water for about a minute, the initially hard cocoons became soft. I then tried wrapping one around my finger and messaged my face with it

Well, to be honest with you, I really didn’t feel that much of a difference, which I suppose is to be expected. My girlfriend just scoffed when she heard I was expecting difference with a single use. Anyways, she’s really into this kind of stuff and spends a royalty on beauty products regularly, so naturally she went on to try the rest of the cocoons and went on further to buy another 200 after a week’s usage. According to her, the cocoons were able to remove stuff that even her deep cleaning facial cleaners could not, blackheads and all and I believe her she does look more refreshed after she started using these cocoons.

I’ll ask her to post something afterwards regarding her experience with these cocoons. First-person account count for more than my bystander experience after all, and in the meanwhile I’m going to do a bit of research on these cocoons and why they work.

 

So with that taken care off, lets take some time to talk a bit more about silk cocoons which, my girlfriend Jan had been using consistently for the past 2 weeks. I gotta say Im starting to notice a difference too, her face is definitely smoother to the touch and when she smiles her face simply beams. I guess the cocoons are doing its work.

So why does it work? Well, to be honest with you, there are no definitive conclusions since the cocoons, while ancient, is so little known in the West that big industry names have not bothered to do research into it, save for a few select studies here and there. Good thing though, is that I understand Chinese and Japanese, which are the two biggest markets for silk cocoons, and here are some things I found out:

1. Silk cocoon works a bit differently from silk facial masks.

The facial masks focuses on two specialties of silk moisture preservation and nutritional nourishment, which is why users of silk facial masks report tender and plumper skins. The cocoons, however, due to their natural and unprocessed state, contains a much higher percentage of sericin, a.k.a. silk glue. Sericin, while slightly irritating in large quantities, is the perfect beauty compound:
It is adhesive. The glue part of sericin makes it a great agent in taking off any hard-to-remove dead skin as well as dirt hidden deep within the pores in your skin. Perfect if your face is prone to blackheads and pimples.
It replenishes collagen. This is currently being researched into, but there is a clearly positive correlation between contact with sericin and improved collagen regeneration. For those of you who dont know what collagen is its what keeps your facial skin (and really, skin all over your body) elastic.
It repels all kinds of harmful bacteria. Sericin not only glues the cocoon together, but also acts as a protective layer that keeps harmful bacteria away from the pupa inside. Likewise, massaging with silk cocoons would help you dispose harmful bacteria on your face.
It is natural. Sericin is a naturally occurring protein produced by silk worms, and contains the 18 kinds of amino acids a human body requires for proper functioning. It is completely natural and has been proven to be harmless to human skin in small quantities.

Here is an article from the Daily Mail for those wanting real scientific proof that the cocoons work: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2837024/Rub-face-silkworm-cocoons-wipe-away-wrinkles-sounds-bizarre-works.html

so if you feel that there are things (dirt/blackheads/oil) clogging up your pores, silk cocoons work amazingly well. According to Jan it was better than the many brands of deep facial cleaners she used before.

2. Silk cocoons are *really* big in Japan and China.

Its one of the most common household facial cleaning tools in Japan, thanks to TV endorsements by some of the most famous cosmeticians and beauty therapists. (If you know Japanese I can give you some names and you can research into it yourself.) These cocoons go back a few centuries, however, all the way back to feudal times when the most famous Oirans or more commonly known as Geishas of the ancient capital Kyoto used them exclusively for facial cleaning. There is, in fact, a book on this topic called Japanese Women Dont Get Old or Fat by Naomi Moriyama (I know the title sounds very offputting, but it was a fun read).

A research into Chinese history reveals more amazing facts compared to the Japanese, the ancient Chinese, who mastered the production of silk over 2000 years ago all the way back in the Han dynasty, started to use silk cocoons as beauty products as early as the first century! Unfortunately, silk had always been a priviledge available to the aristocrat and literati classes exclusively in ancient China, which is probably why that it was not as widespread as Japan in terms of use. It was mentioned, however, in many different ancient Chinese medical works spanning over 10 centuries, the most famous being Ben Cao Gang Mu about 500 years ago, and most of the books noted its healing properties on coarse skin. Crazy huh?

Anyways, thats all Im going to say about silk cocoons for now. Its fun to dig deeper around such an item that is seemingly insignificant and find so much history and modern research around it; however, beauty products really arent my thing. Next time Im going to go back to actual silk stay tuned!

Beware of Silk(y) Satin Pillowcases!

Sally from my office recently listened to my advice and got herself a pair of silk pillowcases at least thats what she thought. Apparently, she ignored the part of my advice where you have to watch out for the pricing. The package arrived at the office this morning and she was thrilled, until I pointed out that the material for the pillowcases wasnt silk it was polyester.

Of course, Sally was baffled. She saw the pillowcases on Ebay on a 70% discount (yep, thats 30% of original price) and were selling for a measly $14, and she thought it was a great deal. The title of the merchandise read Top Quality Silk-y Satin Pillowcases Clearance Sale, and being the ever-so-careless klutz of our office, she thought it was silk. She even tried to defend her decision by refuting my claims and claiming that even I could be wrong. This is, of course, before I compared her pillowcases with the silk travel pillowcase I had in the office. The obvious difference in the touch and feel of the materials made her realize her mistake right away.

Sally was lucky that the polyester satin pillowcases she bought were cheap and $14 is nowhere near a big loss. Besides, polyester satin fabric is smooth and offers some skin protection as well so the money isnt completely wasted. However, I was really intrigued by the use of trap words in merchandise titles (such as Silk-y) that could mislead the unknowing buyer into buying something they dont really want. Doing a quick search on Ebay returns many more results with silk being part of the title yet are not made with silk at all. Most of these products that can be searched with silk have polyester written somewhere in their description to avoid accusation of fake product description, but customers who are encouraged by the low prices can overlook these small details in their excitement.

So some of you might ask: well, as long as my penny is worth it whats wrong with polyester? To this I answer: Nothing. There is, of course, nothing wrong with polyester it IS the more economical choice of the two. However, you are not paying more for silk for nothing. Silk offers a number of benefits that polyester simply doesnt:
Polyester is a poor moisture wicker, a heavy sweater sleeping on polyester pillowcases will find himself waking up with half his face wet. Silk has one of the highest moisture absorption rate out of all textiles.
Polyester has poor insulation. Sleeping on polyester pillowcases in winter leaves your face feeling cold. Silk on the other hand, keeps just the right amount of warmth in the material.
Polyester is not hypoallergenic while silk is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-acarid at the same time.
Polyester is synthetic and chemically inert while silk is composed of proteins and essential amino acids, which helps nourish your facial skin.

Then there are the subtle differences in touch and feel silk is softer while polyester feels slightly rigid. The only area in which polyester has a convincing victory is anti-wrinkle, which is nothing a good ironing cant solve.

So Im not writing this to bash on polyester, but if you are aiming to get silk for its health and beauty benefits, you have to watch out for the little traps in online shopping. Going for the cheap goods will almost always reward you with cheap quality, which is something you probably dont want.

PS. For those who are interested in reading about techniques in telling silk and cheaper materials apart, please see part 7 of my blog series from 2013-2014, which talks about how to avoid common traps and pitfalls when you shop for silk online.

silk satin pillowcase

Silk Pillowcases Buyers Guide

I’m officially dying to this mad Christmas rush. Just imagine that an Internet addict like me have actually been away from my beloved computer for 3 days straight on a weekend too. What did I have to do instead? Well, for starters, I had to venture out into the snow to mix with the massive crowd at Rideau and St.Laurent malls, UGH. It has been snowing way too much in Ottawa this year

Anyway, today I’m going to talk about things you need to watch out for when you shop for silk both online and offline, and not just limited to silk pillowcases. Before you throw those metaphorical rocks at me, let me just say that I know this one is coming late for a lot of you who have already finished Christmas shopping, and I am extremely sorry! I will try to finish the silk shopping guide in as little time as possible so at least you would be able to do something about New Year’s day. Then afterwards I will give you pointers on how you should maintain your silk pillows and pillowcases so that you can care for them properly and enjoy them for a long time. Sounds good? (I hope)

Alright, let us get going then. The first thing you have to do before embarking on the adventure of online silk hunting is know what are the criteria you should be looking for. For starters, lets look at what are the measurements commonly used to determine the quality of silk:

Momme weight: It’s likely that you have never seen the word “momme”. No worries, I haven’t either before delving into the world of silk. The meaning of the word is not nearly as intimidating as it sounds. Momme weight refers to the weight of a “piece” of silk fabric that is 300 feet long and 45 inches wide, in pounds; so if 300 feet of a piece of 45 inches wide silk fabric weighs 19 pounds, we say this piece of fabric is made from 19 momme silk. Simple, right?

Thread count: Thread count is a more common criterium to measure fabric quality. Technically speaking, the name should be “threads per inch” or TPI, as it is the number of threads, counted both vertically and horizontally and then added together, of a particular piece of fabric that measures one square inch. It is most commonly used to measure the quality of cotton fabrics but can also be used with silk. Do note, however, that thread count is not the best criterium to measure silk quality as silk thread is very fine so it is common for silk to have a high thread count, regardless of quality. Momme weight is a much better unit of reference.

Mulberry vs Tussar/Wild silk: Most of the silk stores you see on google will say they are selling Mulberry silk, but some will claim to sell wild/tussar silk, and might even go to the lengths to say that wild silk is better because it’s more “natural” which is, forgive me for being blunt, ridiculous. Mulberry silk is produced by the silk worms of Bombyx mori moths, which eat Mulberry leaves(hence the “Mulberry”), and are completely natural. The process of Mulberry silk production is an ancient craft that had been in existence for over 2000 years in China and the old Chinese masters of silk-crafting served no one but the very royal families of China. The art of producing Mulberry silk has been in constant evolvement and it’s only reasonable to say that after 2000 years, it is really hard for wild silk to top the systematically bred and cultured Mulberry silk. Generally speaking, Mulberry silk has better color, smoothness, luster, fiber length, fiber uniformness and elasticity that wild tussar silk, in all its coarseness and dimness, can only dream of having.

With the information I have just listed above, the first criteria you should look for when you are aiming for high end luxury silk are what I would like to call the Big Three:
19+mm weight: higher momme weight means the silk fibers have better quality, are stronger, and also speaks a little bit about the craftsmanship. Silk items with a higher momme weight tend to be much more resistant to wear and tear, feel more solid and lustrous, and last a lot longer than their lower mm-counterparts (such as those flimsy silk lingerie that has a “must be handwashed” label.)
100% pure Mulberry silk: you need to make sure that the item you are getting is made from 100% pure Mulberry silk. I have seen numerous cases where the title of the merchandize proudly boasts of silk or even Mulberry silk and yet somewhere in a little corner in the description lurked a little sentence that read something like 50% silk 50% cotton or 80% silk 20% polyester, etc. Don’t be fooled remember, if a vendor is selling top quality stuff, he probably would like everyone to understand why his products are better; leaving out the decisive 100% Mulberry hardly seems like the way to do it.
400+thread count: This is less important, but sometimes when something has really caught your eye but the seller does not provide you with the momme weight, go hunt for the thread count. 400 or even 450+ thread count is the minimum requirement for high-end silk so don’t settle for less. Keep in mind that a thread count of 300 may be considered top end for cotton fabrics, but silk is a different story. The online store I’m affiliated with right now, Lilysilk, claims a whopping 750+ thread count for their top-end 25mm line of products so a 400+ thread count is fairly commonplace.

Now, not every silk dealer would care to provide these information in the descriptions of their products some may be because they don’t have enough space to do so, others because they actually know that their silk is subpar and wish to market their products by NOT telling you what you should know. In fact, some of these vendors will boast of a few other things about their products which may or may not matter, and below are a few pointers on how to look right through some of the technical jargon:

Satin: When you search for “silk”, you will often get results that read like “satin pillowcases”, “satin silk pillow shell”, etc. Don’t be fooled satin is NOT silk! In fact, satin is not even a type of fabric, it is just a particular way to weave any fabric so that the surface is glossy and shiny and the back is dull. Satin weave can be done with most textiles such as silk, polyester, cotton, nylon, etc., and with any quality of silk as well. So when you read “satin silk” in a product name, know it could very well be made with very low quality silk and break apart easily.

silk satin pillowcaseThis is part of what came up when I searched “silk pillowcase” on Amazon. See how cheap they are? Good quality silk sells for a lot more.

Charmeuse: Charmeuse is also a form of satin weave, albeit a special one, that is used only with lighter material such as silk and polyester. Generally speaking Charmeuse weave is softer and lighter in weight when compared with regular satin weave of the same material. Charmeuse is considered to be the best weave to use with pillowcases, but when you see just Charmeuse silk advertised in the name of an item, it is recommended that you check the big three before making a decision, as lower grade Charmeuse is very prone to wear-and-tear.

Raw silk: I suppose some vendors like to use the word “raw” to create a feeling of naturalness. Sort of like “organic” for produce I guess? In any case, raw silk is basically silk that has not undergone the process of sericin-removal and contains sericin at approximately 20%-30% of its total weight. Sericin, while possessing many great health benefits, is capable of causing severe allergy reactions; it also smells VERY awful so if you use it to make your pillowcase, you will need to love that smell very much to be able to sleep at night.

Finally, if you are buying offline, I would recommend that you go to the whichever store you are interested in and hand-feel the silk yourself, especially with pillowcases which you will be putting your face against every night for a long while. There is nothing like the actual touch of your hand that can give you more assurance on the quality of the product. Of course, that option is not always available with online vendors. I’m going to be subjective again and recommend Lilysilk as your online silk shop once more, as they offer free silk swatches (smaller pieces of silk fabric) of various grades and colors for you to see and feel before making your purchases. I’m sure most of you will agree with me when I say it’s better to be able to know what your product will look and feel like before you buy them, and Lilysilk provides you just that. Plus, silk swatches are free and they cover shipping costs too so what do you have to lose?

and folks, that’s it for today! A little hasty I suppose to be honest I had something else on my mind too when I started but I can’t seem to recall what it was. I guess I’ll just add it in next time if I ever remember. The next article will come after Christmas its not like you want to read silk blogs when you are enjoying Christmas anyway, plus, I got friends coming over.

Anyways, heres wish everyone of you a merry merry Christmas!

How to pick a good silk duvet online? (Part I)

Last Wednesday at work, Sandy asked me to recommend a silk duvet for her. Being friends with her for 5 years, I know a recommendation can hardly satisfy all she needs, so I decided to write this weeks entry on silk duvets partly because Im too lazy to think of another topic, partly because well, I dont want to be bombarded with questions at weird hours during the day which seems to be her specialty.

So, lets say you want to buy a silk duvet (or comforter as it is known in the US). You go to a local bedding store and the price tag makes you gasp and hurry out the door. You go to Costco and sometimes you find a silk duvet on a roadshow there however, after doing some research you realize the duvets Costco sells are basically the same as the ones sold in some online stores and its much cheaper to buy online instead.

Buying online has its own problems though you never know what you are going to get because you cant inspect the goods beforehand. In this entry I will help you with deciding which store is more trustworthy, as well as how to make sure the duvets you get are made with authentic Mulberry silk.

1. Pricing

Raw Mulberry silk price has been on a steady increase for about 10 months now, so newly made duvets tend to be more expensive than older duvets. Certain vendors keep a good stock of silk duvets since they are resistant to bacteria, mold and most other harmful insects, and this further reduces prices. Of course, the older the silk filling, the less effective it gets in terms of temperature regulation, and the higher the chance that harmful substances accumulate within.

Then there are also vendors that DO NOT use long-stranded Mulberry silk at all but advertise as such. Grade B Mulberry (short-stranded) and Tussah silk (broken silk) can also be used to make silk filling. However, due to very short fibre length, fillings made with these silk do not have the mesh-like structure present in long-fibre fillings, and are significantly less effective in terms of keeping warm. One needs to be aware of these silk duvets they are certainly not going to be very helpful if you are expecting a harsh winter ahead.

Here are some numbers to help you get a rough idea of the price you should expect a decent duvet to have:
Grade A Mulberry silk filling currently are around ¥400-450 RMB (CAD $85)/500g. A lightweight summer duvet contains 0.8-1kg filling, so the filling alone would cost around CAD $140-170. Winter duvet filling weights can double, costing $280-$340 alone.
Depending on the size of the duvet and the material of the casing, the casing itself may cost from around $100 CAD (standard 300 TCI cotton) to up to CAD $250-$300 range (25 momme silk).
Shipping: There is no such thing as free shipping. Vendors who advertise free shipping are really putting the shipping cost in the price, so duvets with faster shipping are often priced higher. Shipping costs may vary a lot so I wont bother to post numbers here.

To conclude:
If you are looking for a duvet to help you through the winter (or summer), its price tag should be your first filter. (Although, Ill have to admit, pricing and customer reviews are probably the only two ways you CAN filter out bad silk before actually making a purchase.)

2. Labels

100% Grade A Mulberry silk filling WILL be labeled as such if the vendor is not stupid. Obviously not all such labeling mean the silk is genuine, but if your duvet does not come with such a label, and instead is tagged with 100% Pure Silk 100% Natural Silk Grade 1 Mulberry silk, etc, you can almost be certain that the duvet is made with second-class silk.

3. Casing
While the filling does all the hard work, the casing of a duvet is also a very important and can affect your experience with the duvet significantly. Cotton shell is generally recommended for a good balance between price and quality, while silk (Charmeuse, Habotai, Satin) casing offers the best synergy with the silk fililng. If the vendor does not specify the casings material, MAKE SURE YOU ASK BEFORE BUYING! Polyester casings are mostly advertised as Satin. Unfortunately,while they are cheap, synthetic fibres are horrible and negate much of silk fillings benefits.

4. Inspection Zipper
When you purchase a silk duvet, one of the most important method to verify the filling inside is through a side opening. Vendors who are confident about the filling will leave an opening of at least 25cm on one side of the duvet so that customers can open and thoroughly inspect the entire filling. When you first receive your silk duvet, make sure you inspect the silk at least once, by opening the side slit to its maximum capacity, and check all four corners as well as the center of the duvet, as some vendors may use second-grade or even worse, synthetic fibres for parts of the filling.

5. Silk
When you have done all of the above and obtained satisfactory results, chances are you have already purchased a decent silk duvet and its almost time to enjoy. Unfortunately, recently there have been reports of certain manufacturers mixing real long strand Mulberry silk with synthetic fibres. This is generally difficult to detect for the naked eye, but there is a quick way to see if your duvet contains a large amount of polyester fibres. I call it the shredded paper test.

The test uses the fact that natural fibres, on general, generate less static than synthetic fibres. What you need to prepare for this test is some shredded paper with width around 0.3-0.8cm. The procedure is extremely simple: open the side zipper and rub the filling quickly at the opening for around 50-60 seconds, then place the filling near the shredded paper scraps. If the filling contains a significant percentage of synthetic fibers, you will notice that the paper scraps will be quickly attracted to (almost flying into) the filling. Pure silk filling, on the other hand, does not attract paper scraps with nearly the same intensity.

Another way to test silk is through the Burn Test, which I have written about in an earlier entry. Its late so I dont wanna go find it.

Its almost 2am here and I feel like Im only half way done, so I guess thats it for tonight. Ill see if I can squeeze some time out next week and finish this.

Good night!

Silk Comforter Pros and Cons

Like almost everything there are pros and cons to owning a silk comforter so lets get the bad news out of the way first and talk about the cons silk comforters

Cons:

Cost – there is no getting around the fact that a high quality silk comforter and cover is doing to be an investment. The manufacture of silk is a time consuming, exacting, and demanding process.

Care – a silk comforter cannot be treated like other comforters. Silk batting does not like to be laundered. An occasional airing out is all that is required. For that reason a duvet cover is a necessity. But, what happens if something is spilled on a silk comforter? It will need to be cleaned – professional cleaning is best. If things get spilled on it often, the frequent cleaning required will shorten the life of the silk. Thats it. Those are the only two negative things I can think of when it comes to silk comforters. Now for the good news about silk comforters.

Pros:

Lightweight – Sleeping under one is like sleeping under a light fluffy cloud. They are lightweight yet warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Breathable – The silk floss filling in a silk comforter is composed of many layers of silk, usually around 150 in a high quality comforter. This allows it to absorb moisture from the body and release it into the air. It is especially wonderful for people who suffer from excessive sweating at night such as those who suffer from night sweats or hot flashes.

Better than down – This is not a statement I take lightly because I was a huge fan of down comforters for years. But since I suffer from dust mite allergies, down was not good choice for me. Dust mites dont like silk so they avoid it. Silk has a natural protein and amino acids that help it repel dust mites, mold, and mildew. And, silk fibers are lighter than down fibers which makes silk comforter warm and cozy without feeling heavy on you. Another benefit of silk over down is that silk does not seep out of the comforter cover like down does nor are there any pesky hard ends of feathers poking you.

Good for the body – – I dont know if there is scientific proof of this or not, but the amino acids that are naturally found in silk are supposed to delay wrinkling of the skin and be good for a persons hair. Silk contains a natural cellular albumen fiber which is said to contribute to the health of skin by speeding the metabolism of skin cells which slows down the aging of the skin. The amino acids found in the silk are supposed to help with the relief of joint pain, asthma, arteriosclerosis, and insomnia.

Long lasting – a high quality silk comforter can last for many years. One company says they have customers who have been using the same silk comforter for 30 years. That is a strong testament to silks durability and strength.

Silk is one of natures wonder products. It is the strongest natural fiber in the world and yet incredibly soft and smooth. No wonder silk and the secrets to making it were a secret the Chinese guarded closely for over 2,000 years. But luckily for the rest of the world, the secret is out and silk is available world wide.

Silk Sheets – What’s the Big Deal?

Are silk sheets a luxury that only the affluent can afford to purchase, or can a person with an average income dream of blissful nights spent sleeping in their bed on their own silk sheets?

And if a person does purchase silk sheets, will those nights really be blissful or will they be filled with nightmares because purchasing a set made their pocketbook cry for mercy.

While it is true that silk sheets cost many times more than a set of low thread count cotton blend sheets purchased at the local discount store, a set of properly cared for silk sheets can outlast several sets of cheap sheets. This makes the cost of silk sheets less prohibitive over time.

But what is the big deal with silk sheets? Are they that much more comfortable than the $20 sheets purchased from the discount store down the street? Or do people just like being able to say they own silk sheets?

Until recently I would never have considered purchasing a set of silk sheets because of the cost. But then I had the pleasure of spending a few nights at a relatives house. The bed in the room we slept in had silk sheets on it. They were so soft and luxurious. It wasnt like sleeping on my cheap sheets that have been around for a while and have lost their softness but have gained lots of little bumpy pill marks that arent so comfortable. But now Im a convert. I dont want to sleep on anything but silk sheets again if I can help it.

What does silk come from and how is it made? Silk comes from silkworms but dont get grossed out just yet. It is a natural protein spun by silkworms, not something that is made from the worms themselves.

Growing silkworms and harvesting their cocoons is a demanding and tricky process. It takes approximately 3,000 silkworms to produce 1 pound of raw silk which explains why silk is an expensive fabric.

The Chinese perfected the art of growing silkworms and producing luxurious silk. The eggs of silkworms are kept at 65 degrees Fahrenheit and gradually increased to 77 degrees at which time the worms hatch. Then they are fattened up on a diet of chopped mulberry leaves. The worms are fed every half hour around the clock. Within a month, the silkworms have multiplied their weight by 10,000 times. Pretty amazing isnt it?

About this time the silkworms have stored up enough energy to go into their cocoon stage. It takes a silkworm three or four days to finish spinning their fluffy white cocoon. After several days in a warm place the cocoons are placed in warm water to soften the filament thread and which is then unwound and spooled.

The two main types of silk are cultivated silk and wild silk. Cultivated silk is finer; smoother; rounder; more uniform in size and shape and color, and has longer thread filaments than wild silk. It is also the most expensive. Silk sheets made from cultivated silk will cost you’re the most money but will also be the most durable. Cultivated silk is referred to as mulberry silk.

Tussah silk is a wild silk. Its shape and color are less uniform that mulberry silk because the worms arent fed an exclusive diet of mulberry leaves. Instead they have to fend for themselves and eat what they can find such as oak leaves. The tannin in the leaves affects the color of the filament thread the silkworm weaves which means the thread will range in color from a light off white to a dark tan. It has a rougher texture than cultivated silk but is still beautiful. It typically has little to no luster to it.

The biggest thing to consider when deciding on what type of silk you want in the sheets you are going to purchase is durability. Mulberry silk is woven from long continuous filaments. Tussah silk is a spun silk which means the filaments are not continuous. It makes Tussah silk less durable.

Silk sheets are comfortable both in the summer and in the winter. In the summer they wick away the moisture from your body and in the winter they gently form to your body eliminating air pockets and holding in your body heat which keeps you warm.

Plus the essential amino acids found in silk is said to delay wrinkling of the skin, be good for your hair, and help calm you to help you get a restful nights sleep. Who knew that silk sheets could do so much for a person?

When looking at silk sheets pay attention to both the momme weight of the sheets and the thread count. The momme weight is a measurement of the weight of silk. A very low momme count means the sheets wont be durable they are too thin. A momme weight of 12-19 is perfect for sheets. That combined with a thread count of at least 400 and buying silk that is cultivated ensures you of getting high quality sheets that will last you a long time.

Once you have a set of silk sheets you probably will not to want to ever sleep on anything else. Most people say that. There is nothing quite like the sheer comfort of being caressed by silk sheets as you gently drift off to sleep for the night, which is a very big deal indeed.

Why You Should Avoid Cheap Silk Sheets

Why do I think you should avoid purchasing cheap silk sheets? In the world of silk bedding you truly do get what you pay for. If you spend $150 dollars (or the equivalent) on a bargain set of silk sheets for your king size bed, you will be getting a bargain set of silk sheets that is made from a lower quality silk and that likely also contains other non silk fibers in the weave. The bargain sheets will not hold up well over time and will be destined for the scrap heap in a short amount of time. It reminds me of a saying my Mom had which went like this, “If it looks like a bargain, feels like a bargain, and smells like a bargain, be very wary because it is probably no bargain at all.”

There are typically only a few occasions where high quality silk sheets will be reduced in price to the point of a being a real bargain. If a color or style is being discontinued manufacturers will discount the sheets. There may also be periodic sales or special pricing if silk sheets, a silk comforter, and a silk duvet cover are all purchased at the same time.

My son recently purchased a new set of sheets and was in a “bargain price” shopping mode. He made the mistake of looking at only two things: price and whether or not the sheets were seamless because he knew he wanted seamless sheets. He got a bargain, just like he wanted. He is now the no so proud owner of silk sheets that arent nearly as soft and luxurious as he wanted and are quickly wearing out. He knows he will have to replace the sheets within a year.

If you are determined to purchase a silk sheets but have a budget that currently does not allow for their purchase, it is a good time to practice you skills of patience, saving, and the willingness to delay the pleasure of owning them until you can afford a good quality set. Instead purchase a good quality set of Egyptian cotton sheets to use now. They are soft yet durable. Then save until you can afford good silk sheets.

Here are the three most important things to look for in a high quality set of sheets that will last a long time:

  1. 100 percent mulberry silk, also called cultivated silk or bombyx silk
  2. A momme count (pronounced “mummy” and indicated by the symbol “mm”) of no less than 12. Momme is a standard weight measurement for silk fabric and indicates the heft or weight of the fabric. The higher the momme number the heaver the fabric and the more silk that was used in the production of that piece of fabric.
  3. Thread count of 400 or higher although this is not nearly as important of a consideration as the type of silk used and the momme count.

You will be happy you passed up the cheap silk sheets and waited until you could afford high quality silk sheets every night when you climb into bed and are caressed as you drift off to sleep in the pure silks luxurious softness. You will also be happy years down the road when those silk sheets are still in good shape because you purchased ones that were durable.

The Advantages Of Silk Bedding And Silk Sheets

In ancient China, owning anything made of silk was once a privilege only given to the very wealthy and powerful. Today, quality silk bedding no longer only for the rich and affluent. Quality silk bedding is available to anyone willing to invest in it.

What are the benefits and advantages of silk bedding? Here are a few:

Silk Breathes

A silk comforter typically contains over one hundred layers of silk which makes it incredibly breathable and comfortable. Silk will wick away moisture from the body, keeping a person cool and comfortable all night long. That means that not only will it keep a person cool in the summer, but it is the perfect bedding choice for anyone who suffers from night sweats or hot flashes.

That doesn’t mean a persons silk comforter should be stored away for the winter in favor of another type of comforter. Silk is great in the winter too although feeling the weight of a silk comforter may not lead you to believe that. But it is true. Sleeping under a silk comforter is like sleeping under a light fluffy cloud, one that will keep you warm and snuggly even when it is cold outside. Silk has a natural draping ability that some people call the “hugging effect.” It gently caresses and hugs the body which helps hold in body heat when it is cold.

This means a silk comforter will keep a person feeling “just right” in terms of warmth. It helps them not ever feel too warm or too cold but always “just right.”

It Is Good For Allergy and Asthma Sufferers

The process of making silk from the cocoons of silkworms is a gentle one. It does not strip away the protein called sericin that it contains nor the amino acids that are in it. Those are good things for humans. They make silk, mold resistant, mildew resistant, and an environment that dust mites hate. So if you are like me and had to get rid of your down comforter because of dust mite allergies, getting a silk comforter instead is the perfect choice.

Long Lasting

High-quality silk bedding will last for many years. As long as a silk comforter is not abused, and by abused I mean subjected to harsh detergents and frequent laundering, it can easily last upwards of 20 years. Because silk naturally repels dirt, odors, and pesky things like dust mites a silk comforter does not need frequent laundering. In fact, many silk experts recommend avoiding laundering of a silk comforter unless it is absolutely necessary, such as in the case of spilling something on it. But, they also say a silk comforter should always have a duvet cover to protect it. The duvet cover should be laundered frequently and kept clean, as well as the silk sheets.

Why will high-quality silk last for so long? Mulberry silk is the king of silks. It is made from the cocoons of a special type of silkworm that is pampered with a steady around the clock diet of chopped mulberry leaves and a temperature controlled environment free of strong odors and loud noises from the time they are hatched to the time they meet their demise when their cocoons are harvested for their silk. Great care is taken to not allow a moth to hatch from a silkworm after it has spun its cocoon. This is so the long single filament silk thread the silkworm has woven as its cocoon does not get broken.

When the silk filament thread from a single cocoon of a cultivated silkworm is unwound, it can be as long as 1,600 yards. The long threads in mulberry silk along with its natural tendency to adhere and bond with itself creates a fabric that is very durable and long lasting.

You Won’t Be Sorry

I have yet to hear of a single person who has said that sleeping on silk bedding is horrible. Most cannot rave enough about how wonderful it is. I doubt that you will regret your purchase of silk bedding. Instead you will be very glad you did it.

Silk History

The History of Silk and Silk Production

Silk production is said to have been the most zealously guarded secret in history because it is something the Chinese kept to themselves for almost 2,000 years. Its roots can be traced very far back in history although pinpointing an actual date has not yet been possible.

Prevailing legend says that Goddess of Silk was Lady Hsi-Ling-Shih, who was the wife of Yellow Emperor. The mythical Yellow Emperor is said to have ruled China sometime around 3,000 B.C. Lady Hsi-Ling-Shih is given credit for inventing the loom and introducing the rearing of silkworms.

But recent archeological finds suggest the art of silk production, or sericulture as it is more formally known, dates back several thousand years earlier. A small ivory cup carved with a silkworm design, spinning tools, silk thread, and fabric fragments from an archeological site on the Yangzi River are thought to be 6,000 to 7,000 years old.

Although silk is produced from many different varieties of silk moths, many of them wild, the most prized moth used in sericulture is the Bombyx Mori. It is a blind moth that cannot fly. It is a specialized silk producer that is only able to mate and produce the eggs of the next generation. The silkworm this moth produces is highly prized because it produces a filament thread that is finer and smoother than the filament thread of other silk moths. A large reason for that may be due to the diet of the silkworms produced by the Bombyx Mori moth which is mulberry leaves.

In ancient China, sericulture was large part of the daily lives of the female population. The skills and talents of raising and feeding the silkworms, unraveling the filaments into their long threads, spinning those filaments into silk thread, weaving the thread into silk fabric, dying the fabric, and embroidering it, were passed down from generation to generation. It was common for the women of a Chinese household to spend a significant part of each day for half the year to the various activities of sericulture.

Those techniques and secrets passed down through the generations were very closely controlled by the Chinese authorities. Remember when I said earlier in this article that it was zealously guarded secret? I wasnt kidding. At time, anyone who revealed the secrets of sericulture or tried to smuggle either the silkworm eggs or cocoons outside of China were punished by being put to death.

As you might expect, during the earliest centuries of silk production in China, the privilege of wearing was allotted only to the ruler of the country along with his close relatives and his high ranking dignitaries.

Over time that changed. Eventually even the lower classes of Chinese society were wearing silk garments.

Silk was a major part of the Chinese economy. For a period of time, it was used as a method payment. Farmers would pay their taxes in silk. The government would reward its subjects who had provided outstanding services silk. Civil servants received payment for their services in silk also. It also became a form of currency trade between China and foreign countries.

Alas, China was not able to keep the secret of silk production to themselves forever. Chinese immigrants to Korea brought their silk making skills and secrets with them. Others also found ways to get the secrets along with the coveted eggs out of the country because there a high demand for the luxurious silk the Chinese produced. The demand in Roman times for example was so high that some historians say it damaged the Roman economy. That may have been due to the exorbitantly high price of the most luxurious of the silks that cost the equivalent of an entire years wages of a Roman soldier.

Today, although there are many countries who produce world class silk, it is still the Chinese who are the masters at it. China produces approximately half of all the silk made in the world. It is a long process that requires constant attention to detail. It starts with the moth laying it eggs, about 500 of them. The eggs are then hatched under very exacting conditions. The worms that hatch from the eggs are fed chopped mulberry leaves every half hour around the clock. After about a month, the silkworm has increased its weight by about 10,000 times. Once it has fattened itself up enough to have the energy to spin its cocoon, it spends approximately three to four days doing just that – spinning a white fluffy cocoon around itself.

After being kept in a warm dry place for several days, the cocoons are ready to be unwound. They are heated (typically steamed or baked) to kill the worms because one of the secrets to silk making is to not let the moth hatch and break the filament of the cocoon. The cocoons are then placed in hot water to loosen the filaments and then unwound onto a spool. Four to eight of the filaments are wound together to make one thread. Thats a lot of time and work to produce one single thread of silk!

The next time you slip on a luxurious silk garment or slide into bed in between a set of opulent silk sheets, consider the rich history of silk and the time consuming and exacting process of creating that beautiful fabric for you to enjoy.

Silk Comforter Buying Tips

Before you dash out to a store and buy a silk comforter take a few moments to read these buying tips to ensure you are purchasing the silk comforter that is right for you.

Here are some things to consider and look for.

Filling

Buy the best filling you can afford. If your pocketbook can afford it, go for a silk comforter with 100 percent mulberry filling. It is the most durable and the highest quality because mulberry silk comes from silkworms raised in captivity under exacting conditions designed to produce the best silk possible. Comforters with Habutai and Tussah silk will be less expensive but the quality will not be quite as high either.

Silk Fill Weight

Most silk comforter manufacturers have at least two weights of comforters available; one that is more suitable for summer use and a heavier one more suitable for cooler weather. In climates where the weather gets extremely cold it is suggested to use the summer weight and heavier weight comforter together to ensure you will be comfy and cozy no matter what the weather is. However, some silk comforter manufacturers do offer an extra warm silk comforter for extremely cold weather use.

As a general rule, summer weight comforters are 4 -5 pounds; fall weight are 6-10 pounds; and anything 11 pounds or over is for winter weather.

Dont Forget a Duvet Cover

A silk filled comforter should always be encased in a removable duvet cover that can be laundered regularly. The covers are available in a vast array of materials from different weaves and grades of silk to ones made of organic cotton to a combination of materials. The choice is up to you, but I recommend a silk cover for the silk comforter. Why skimp on the cover? But if the silk comforter you are buying is for a child, opt for a cotton cover because it is going to stand up to the wear and tear a child will subject it too better than a silk duvet cover will.

What Your Mummy Didnt Tell You

Silk is measured by its weight, its “momme” (pronounced “mummy”) weight. The higher the momme weight the heavier the silk and the more durable it is. While you should look for sheets with a momme weight of 12-19, look for a duvet cover that is on the high end of that range or even in the 20s. It will be more durable.

Seam or No Seam On the Cover

If you are purchasing a 100 percent silk duvet cover, seams arent necessarily a bad thing. Much of the silk made is only 45 inches wide so it makes sense that a silk duvet cover is going to have to have a seam or two somewhere. Seamless duvet covers can be purchased but the wider silk is more expensive so expect to pay a premium for it. Be wary of “too good to be true” prices on any seamless silk bedding. Its probably not a pure silk product.

If you do purchase bedding with a seam, there will either be a seam down the middle or two off center seams that are closer to the side edges. If you sleep alone and sleep in the middle of your bed choose bedding with off center side seams so you are not laying on or directly covered with a seam. If you or if you and your significant other sleep on either side of the bed, opt for the seam n the middle.

Where to Buy

Will you find a quality silk comforter at your local discount store? It is highly unlikely. How about at your local department store? Its not likely you will find it there either unless it is a high end department store. You are likely to find the highest quality and best price by ordering online, by mail, or via the telephone. Why is that? High quality silk bedding is typically made to order and not mass produced and stocked on shelves or in warehouses somewhere

When purchasing any silk bedding, you get what you pay for. Huge discounts and slashed prices on quality silk bedding are not a common occurrence and often only occur when a certain color or style is being discontinued. If you want to bargain shop, go the flea market and haggle over the price of a throw rug or beaded necklace.