Yesterday we visited K.A. Almgrens silk mill on Södermalm in Stockholm. We learned about the history of Jaquard’s invention from year 1804 and how the machine ended up in Sweden, how silk is made and and that a silk thread is 0,02 mm. That’s thin.
In the middle ages the silk came to Sweden from Asia via Lübeck, Hamburg and Bremen. And there is even findings of silk before that, in Birka (the Viking city near Stockholm) there is findings of silk in more than 50 graves.
This fragment is from China and found in a grave of a wealthy man in Birka, dated 10th century.
When fully grown the larvae begin spinning their cocoons, that takes 4 days and silk fibres are formed from a protein from the larva’s silk glands. When the cocoons is finished the silk reeling can begin after the silk fibres is dissolved in hot water.
The silk threads are so shiny and luminous!
These patterned silks makes me want to do a lot if Italian renaissance gowns..The sheen in the fabrics is amazing and even though the jacquard technique is later then the periods I work within, the quality’s of silk is the same, soft, shiny and beautiful and it offers a lot of inspiration!
The guide was very good accept that she said that before the 17th century everyone was dressed in animal skins.. We had to mention linen and wool and that people had woven fabrics long before the silks in the baroque era.
I leave you here in the candy store of silk and if you want a quick lesson in medieval fabrics and silk visit the Medievalist 5 minute fabric guide!