It seems like everyone is touting the benefits of silk. From Good Housekeeping to Marie Claire, beauty editors and authors are detailing the benefits of silk to smooth skin and lustrous hair. The Team at Down Etc has known it all along. That’s why we created the Tiara Silks® and Tiara Cottons™ Collections of silk pillow cases and the Spice Collection of poly dupioni decorative pillows. We agree that silk is wonderful to sleep on and prescribed for people who care about their skin and hair, but wondered about the history of silk and thought you might be interested, too.
What is Silk?
“Silk is a natural protein fiber produced by mulberry silkworm which is used for textile manufacturing. Silk fiber has a triangular prism-like structure which allows silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles and with that to produce different colors.”
Silks’ Interesting History
“The origin of silk production and weaving is ancient and clouded in legend. The industry undoubtedly began in China, where, according to native record, it existed from sometime before the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE.” It was then that it was discovered the thread of the silkworm cocoon could be reeled off, spun, and woven. The cocoons were placed in a large basin of hot water and the silk was then wound onto a large spool. Eventually, a strong demand for the local production of raw silk arose in the Mediterranean area. The Byzantine emperor persuaded two Persian monks to smuggle silkworms from China to Constantinople (now Istanbul) in the hollows of their bamboo canes. These few hardy silkworms were the beginning of all the varieties that stocked and supplied European until the 19th century.
The fame of Chinese manufactured silk spread across the famous trade route which took its name - the Silk Road - such was the commodity’s importance to the Chinese economy. Silk culture flourished in Europe for many centuries, especially in the Italian city-states and in France. In 1854, a silkworm plague appeared. Louis Pasteur discovered the cause and developed a means of control. During and after World War II the substitution of such man-made fibres as nylon in making hosiery and other garments greatly reduced the silk industry.
Weaving of Silk
Silk can be woven in a number of ways, which changes the texture and feel. Down Etc’s Tiara Silks® are silk charmeuse. “Very soft and lightweight, charmeuse fabric is known for its lustrous sheen. Made of either silk or polyester thread woven in a satin weave, charmeuse has a shiny front side and a dull back side. This delicate fabric feels luxurious to the touch and looks expensive.” Down Etc’s Spice Collection of Aromatherapy Pillows are woven from polyester in the silk dupioni style. Dupioni is a plain weave crisp type of silk fabric with a highly-lustrous surface similar to shantung, but slightly thicker, heavier, and with a greater slub (cross-wise irregularity) count.
Unlike polyester and other alternatives, silk takes a bit of care in laundering. Experts at MarthaStewart.com recommend testing silk items for color fastness in an inconspicuous area of the item before hand washing. If they retain their color, silk items should be hand washed one at a time in the sink for the best results. They should be placed in a basin with cool or cold water to which a gentle detergent is added. After a few minutes, the basin should be drained and the item rinsed. Never wring or toss in the dryer. “To remove excess water, place the wet garment on a white cotton towel. Fold the towel over and gently blot. Then, using a padded hanger, hang the blouse or dress over the bathtub to drip dry. The drying process shouldn't take more than an hour. Warning: Don't hang sink items in the sun-this accelerates fading.”
Down Etc’s Tiara Silks® Pillow Cases and Down Etc’s Spice Collection of Poly Dupioni Pillows
Tiara Silks® pillow cases are made of whisper-soft silk charmeuse and bordered with a generous 2" flange. They come with a beautifully packaged organza sachet filled with premium aromatherapeutic lavender potpourri that tucks into a hidden pocket inside the pillow case. The pillow case folds neatly into a color coordinated cut velvet fabric bag. The zipper pull is adorable with our signature Tiara Silks® jewel crown pin. A wonderful hostess gift and ideal for bridal shower parties. Keep one for yourself to tuck into your suitcase on your next big adventure!
Down Etc's Spice Collection features rectangular and square decorative pillows in removable poly dupioni covers. Preassembled with a feather and down pillow insert, they also come with a lavender sachet. A great accent for your couch, armchair, or bed, the beautiful color selection includes rich blues, greens, reds, and pinks. Simply remove the sachet and wash in the machine as these pillows are poly with the look of dupioni silk.