r ranson wrote:I have about 6 kinds of mulberry. the worms don't seem to care which one they eat so far.
my white ones weren't big enough to provide much food last year. Time will tell if it makes a big difference, but I suspect it is one of those things that have grown into mythic status by being repeated so often, people stopped not doing it.
Cindy Haskin wrote:Ok, so I have long wanted to create my own yarns from scratch, and to that end have at least looked into all that is involved to do so from animals like sheep and alpaca. I'm now thinking I want to get into angora rabbits for the limited space requirements and ease of getting the raw fibers. I'm getting older and don't think I could manhandle a larger animal for it's fiber. But now I see that r ranson is raising silkmoths and this intrigues me. I am very familiar with mulberry trees as we have a mostly fruitless variety that is planted around here in droves, pruned hard each year and basically useless for anything but shade and a source of compostable leaves. I have learned that mulberry is also a good food source for ruminants like the goats we hope to have in the future. But....
Just how the heck does one process silk? I have yet to look into this but figured I might inquire within here. And if I only need some mulberry trees, that could prove just "too easy". So, please, either direct me to a more appropriate thread, or educate me here!!
I will say up front that at the moment my situation is minimal, in that I live in a tiny mobile home in a park in a city in southern california. Soon enough that will be changing to relocating to western WV on some acreage, with the plans of chickens, ducks, goats, bees, likely some cattle eventually, maybe some fish in a stocked artificial pond, and my angoras. But there is so much to learn ahead of the move, to be prepared at least somewhat, for the critters and their needs.
Thanks in advance.
r ranson wrote:The literature says that alba leaves are best for silkmoths. But by the end, I was feeding them any variety I could get my hands on.
r ranson wrote:I was wondering how long it takes for each stage - I found this fun picture:
Cindy Haskin wrote:In thinking about what I would transfer my little silk caterpillars to for them to cocoon on/in, that maybe I make from scratch, what does anyone already doing this think of woven branches (maybe mulberry), vines (think grape)?
Cindy Haskin wrote:So 10 days to hatch, then 3-4 weeks of voracious mulberry leaf consumption before a week of cocooning up.
How long before you perform the "harvest" ritual?
Cocoons should be stifled after the worms have changed to pupae (about 6 days after the start of spinning) but before the moths would begin to hatch (about 2 weeks after spinning). Hatched cocoons can be used for spun silk, but are no longer useful for reeling. Reeling produces the most regular, lustrous, and desirable silk.
First, the blaze is separated from the cocoons. This is the first thread that the worm spins when beginning the cocoon. It is called cocoon strippings, blaze, floss, or keba. It is useful in making spun silk. Any cocoons that are soft, stained, or irregular are sorted out. Some will be discarded, others will be added to the silk used for spinning.
The way that I prefer to stifle the cocoons is to bake them in a 180'F oven for 30 - 40 minutes, and repeat the treatment a couple of times over two or three days to fully dry the cocoons. If your oven won't go below 200'F, be careful that the cocoons don't scorch. It is also possible to freeze the cocoons to stifle them, or to place them in hot sunshine. The reason that I prefer the oven, is that it dries out the pupae so that they will not rot and smell bad. They do tend to smell, but the smell of the under-baked ones is really rank. If you choose freezing, make sure to keep them frozen until it's time to reel them. For information on how to reel the silk, click here. April 21, 2004. The stifled cocoons should be stored in mesh or fabric bags, not in sealed plastic, to help prevent molding.
r ranson wrote:First batch
Eggs out of fridge June 17th
First hatch June 27th
First cocoon July 22nd