If you are shopping for silk pillow cases, sooner or later the thought may come into your head; where does the silk used to make these silk pillow cases come from? The answer is not as easy as one might think.
Many manufacturers will not advertise where their silk comes from. They do this for a variety of reasons too wide to get into in this article. Some will state on the packages where the silk pillow cases are made, but that doesn’t always tell exactly where the silk itself comes from. This happens for numerous reasons as well. Perhaps the main reason is that silk is made all around the world. It is a commodity just like gold or silver or oil. At different times of the year different areas will offer different prices. Local situations, such as political unrest or bad weather, can have an effect on the price of silk, making a manufacturer’s favorite supplier suddenly the most expensive. Instead of losing money, many manufacturers will simply purchase their silk from another supplier.
But where are those suppliers located? The short answer is they are located all over the world. Silk production began in China several thousand years ago, some say as much as 5000 years ago. Since then, the cultivation of silk has spread to Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, India, the Middle East, France and America. Over 30 countries on all continents now produce silk with the major ones being China and India.
The silk that is used in silk pillow cases, like most silk these days, is most likely made in a factory. The cocoons are heated to kill the silkworm larvae inside. The cocoons are sorted by size, color, texture and shape and then dunked in hot and cold water. The raw silk from the cocoon is then unwound and collected. The filaments of silk from the cocoon are reeled together to produced the raw silk thread depending on the diameter desired.
Once this is done, the skeins of raw silk are sorted again on similar criteria, and then washed. The silk is then wound onto bobbins and given the desired characteristics, such as twist or doubling. Washed again, the silk is mostly ready to be dyed or further refinements such as preparing it for crepe yarn or other kinds.
In Thailand, as well as other places, silk yarn is still prepared by hand. Hand-reeling the threads by using a wooden spindle will often produce three grades of silk thread – a thicker grade of silk that is best used for heavier garments and two fine grades that are for lighter weight fabrics. Although machines are used for this, Thailand is known for its handmade silk and silk garments. Hand-reeling the silk can take about 40 hours to make 1 pound of Thai silk.
When shopping for silk pillow cases one can try to determine where the silk is made. Not every country has strict manufacturing standards, although that doesn’t mean one should discount a silk pillowcase set just because the silk comes from a certain country. Knowing where the silk came from should be viewed more as knowing about the product than the final determiner of whether one should buy it or not. That role should be left to the feel of the silk, as it is your face, not your wallet, that will be resting against the best silk pillow cases you could find for many nights to come.