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Raw Silk Explained

2013-05-17 12:31:03 GMT

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It’s still a bit chilly in San Francisco, but in anticipation of summer, I went ahead and picked up a raw silk grenadine by Drake’s last week. Michael Hill and his design team seem to be getting more adventurous these days, but I still think they achieve great success. This new design, for example, has a bit more texture than their regular raw silks – adding the slubbiness of raw silk to the textured weave of grenadine. This makes it look something like a summer version of boucle, which I really like. 

Alexander, that reader who kindly introduced me to the New York cloth merchant, explained to me last year that raw silk is simply silk that has not been chemically processed. You see, every silkworm extrudes two filaments when making its cocoon, and these fibers typically undergo a chemical processing to strip them of their bonding sericin. As a result of having their sericin left on, raw silk lacks the full luster and richness associated with the kinds of processed silk used for neckties. There also tends to be an unevenness in the yarns, as the two strands of filament are left bonded together, rather than being stripped and separated, which would yield an ultra-fine filament yarn that can be densely woven.

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