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Silk Factory Tour

One of the things we did on my friend Suzy’s shopping tour was tour a silk factory.  Suzhou is famous for its silk, but few people know that there is actually a silk factory in Shanghai too.  “Factory tour” sounds very boring in itself – it wasn’t though!

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As soon as the receptionist saw Suzy, she went back to get an English-speaking guide.  They had silk worms and cocoons preserved in jars to show the stages of their development.

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There are two types of cocoons – single and double.  The sing cocoon has just one silk worm in it.  They soak the cocoons, find the end of the silk string and this machine unravels the entire cocoon in one long thread of silk!

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The double cocoons, which have two silk worms in them, aren’t able to be unraveled like the single ones.  They are soaked, then stretched wet, let dry, and stretched by four people by hand to make one layer of a duvet.

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The girls let us try to stretch one….  but we didn’t get it even at all!  The silk was incredibly strong.  A silk duvet is made of hundreds of these layers, all stretched out by hand.

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A silk quilt is never stitched.  The silk layers just don’t move – they don’t bunch up at the end like a normal duvet.  Our guide folded and shook out this one to prove it, then let us try to get the filling to move too.  It didn’t happen.

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There were all type of quilts, bed covers, and a huge amount of clothing for sale.  It was all very nice.  It made me realize how ripped off we got when we bought our duvet cover at the fabric market.  Suzy also taught us how to tell if something is real silk.  I thought if it caught your fingers it was real, but now there are types of super-smooth silk, so that method doesn’t work anymore.

I’d seen a lot of people carrying the silk duvets around at train stations (especially Suzhou) and I thought it was so strange that they’d bring a blanket when traveling!  Now I realize they are silk duvets and they are quite special.

7 Responses to Silk Factory Tour

  1. I want one! :) Loving your new site look. Can’t wait to see you!!

  2. Now that is a tour that I would have loved to have gone on! Looks cool!

  3. It was a really cool tour. I’m actually going to be helping Suzy hold the tours when she is unable to or the group is too big for one person. Should be really fun!

    Are you coming to China again, Carol? You were in Beijing before, right?

  4. Hi I am interested in the address of the Silk Factory, I would love to visit.

  5. I visited the SILK FACTORY” while on tour in Shanghai in 2009 and found it one of the top experiences of the three week tour of China. I Bought several silk items; Bed Cover, clothing including a beautiful robe. Suggest buying bed cover one size larger than the bed it will be used on as it looks much better on the bed.
    Most facinating was the “double silk cocoon” and wish I had ask about purchasing one of these after it had been dried and before stretching. It looded like a beautiful pure white bonnet after it had dried on the frame. If you have any information how to purchase one of these dried double silk cocoons before stretching, please send it to me, Thank you, Bill -:)

  6. Sid, I believe that you need to be on a group tour to visit. Do you live in Shanghai?

  7. Hi Bill, I’ve never had anyone ask about purchasing one of those before! Next time I visit on a tour I will try to remember to ask if that’s possible.

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