Craft:Silk making

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DM Tips:Crafts - Silk making

Silk is made from silkworms, which eat only the leaves of the mulberry tree. The tree itself comes in two varieties, one variety produces white berries which is very hardy, the other produces black berries which are pleasant for humans to eat. The silkworms don't seem to mind which bush is used for them.
The life cycle of the silkworm is simple, it hatches, munches mulberry leaves for 27 days, then climbs up a branch or fern and spins a cocoon for the next three days. Most of the worms are then killed, for otherwise they metamorphose into a silk moth and excrete an alkali which destroys the cocoon. Leaving the cocoons out in bright sunlight for a day is normally sufficient to kill the larva inside, although a small oven works far more swiftly. The cocoon must then by dropped into near-boiling water before the grub inside starts to rot damaging the silk. The hot water dissolves the glue holding the thread together and the cocoon then starts to come apart allowing the thread to be carefully unwound. A single cocoon can produce a single tread up to a mile and a half long. The threads, when spun together, makes a very light strong fabric. It takes 500 silkworms to make 80 kilo's of cocoons, which in turn make one kilo of silk thread. To keep enough silkworms to make 100 kilo's of silk would require 150 mulberry trees and 4 full-time staff.
Silk is made only by the Khinasi, with rights and craft secret jealously guarded by a handful of gierhou's for centuries and who still pay the ruler generously for guarding the geirhou's monopoly. The best silk comes from Khourane and Ghamour, lesser silks are made on the Isle of the Serpent and in Ariya - the latter the result of a princess of Khourane smuggling some silkworms to Ariya on her marriage to the Prince of the city-state to ensure that she would never be without proper finery, an act still considered 'theft' today by some folk of Khourane.

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