Thursday, May 24, 2012

Shhhhh...They're Sleeping

The silkies have all spun their little cocoons and are snoozing away, growing into moths.  Vegans: Stop reading now!

Most of them won't make it all the way, as I intend to harvest their silk before too long.   I'm okay with that.  Frankly, I think I worked harder than they did.  I gathered leaves each day - sometimes twice when they were the most voracious. I cleaned their trays regularly, adding silk worm manure to the composter & some directly into the garden.  Watching them get ready and then look for a place to spin was fascinating.  I really liked them, even when they got kind of big and creepy-looking.  Since this is my first effort at silk raising, I had a couple of good sources - Cassie Dixon, whose class I took at the Friends & Fiberworks Winter Retreat (she's teaching again this summer, and I highly recommend her class) and a website,

I was prepared that they would stop eating and look around, then crawl around as though they were looking to get away from their siblings to find a quiet, cozy place to tuck in and spin.  I provided a nice mix of toilet paper and paper towel tubes, rolled up paper towels and paper bags.  The paper bags were the easiest.  When one of the silkies was on the prowl, I dropped it into a bag and turned the top over once.  No staples or even a mere paper clip required.  They just aren't that interested in getting out.  They just settle in, spin a little hammock and then a cocoon.  Kind of cute.  Plus, the acoustics are right so you can hear them spin.  The tubes you see here allow the worms to travel a while to try and get it just right.  Hence a bit of worm doo visible in the webs, as well as the little guy on the right who's not yet fully committed. 

I have about 12 days to do the dirty deed that decides whether they lay eggs for next year or harvest the silk.  Watch this space.

1 comment:

Mulchandmore said...

Your silk worm series is fascinating, my poor mulberry tree wouldn't produce enough leaves to feed a bunch like that, but it is tempting, waiting to see how difficult the harvesting is going to be. How many ounces to you think you will have when you degum it? Are you going to start another batch? or take a break? Can they be raised on other leaves than mulberry?
Have a great fibery summer.