Sunday, November 10, 2013

Vacation Destination - China Part 3

Vacation  China – Silk Part 3 – A Great Product

Of course, you cannot visit China without encountering every type of silk fabric and many, many products made from this luxurious fiber.  There are dozens and dozens of workshops that will tailor a suit and deliver it to your hotel within 24 hours.  Hundreds of lovely scarves and shawls are folded on counters in every department store.   But there was one silk product I had not considered and I found it at the Yuanlong Silk Factory.

Yuanlong Silk
No. 55, T i antan Road, Dongcheng District
Beijing, China
I saw a small description of the factory-showroom in our Beijing travel guide.  I was intrigued by the description of a teaching area of sericulture and their show rooms of products, not to mention an English-speaking “tour guide”.  We found the factory was located  a 15 minute walk from a  subway station and near The Temple of Heaven where we had planned to spend the afternoon.  So off we went.

The foyer of the showroom was filled with vintage photos and maps relating to the silk industry.  A series of displays featured cocoons,  larvae, manual looms and other machines used when silk weaving was a cottage industry.

  Now, all aspects are automated and factory produced with one exception.  Silk-filled duvets!!!  Instead of a feather or down filling, these bedcovers are filled with silk filament, straight from the cocoons!

A small opening is made in the top of the cocoon and the larva removed.  The cocoon is then softened and stretched over a small frame.  The cocoon is constantly massaged and stretched over larger and larger frames until a large sheet of silk filament is the size of a mattress. Just one cocoon!!  The filament sheets are piled depending upon the weight of the final duvet.  For a 2,000 gm cover there are 4,000 cocoons used.    The mat of filaments is enclosed within a cotton cover and then packaged. 

There are sizes for all mattresses and 2 weights, 2,000 gms and 2,500 gms.
In addition to the duvets, themselves, there are covers for purchase in evey size and conceivable color.  You can get a beautiful silk brocade or a more practical cover made from a combination of cotton and bamboo fibers.

 This product is possible because of the properties of silk filaments. Due to layers of protein build-up, silk is noted for its softness to the touch and brilliant sheen.  The basic filament has incredible fineness but is pound for pound stronger than steel, yarn only 1 mm in diameter will support 100 pounds.   It has impressive insulating properties and is mildew resistant. .  

Size chart and packaged duvets

 I couldn’t resist with winter on its way.  It was so light that the compressed package fit easily into our luggage  So far, our duvet is surprisingly warm for its light weight,  and it will get much more use than a hand-tailored  suit!!!

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