Silk Amazement

An unexpected delight of my time in Ethiopia was seeing silk produced. I visited Sabahar, a company in Addis Ababa, and saw the entire process from eggs to worms to cocoons to finished product. Sabahar exports very elegant scarves, pillowcases and table linens (http://www.sabahar.com), and can’t get enough silk. Dr. Larry Thomas  (www.thaf.org) is working on an income-generation project for women’s groups in Dembi Dollo, teaching the women to grow silkworms and harvest the silk.

I guess cotton and wool are just as amazing in their own way, but I’m used to them. I’m used to the idea that we grow plants or raise fluffy grasseaters that produce useful fibers for clothing. Raising caterpillars for the same purpose is unfamiliar to me, so it strikes me all over again how bountiful and creative God’s world is—especially when human ingenuity gets involved.

Here are some pictures that show the process:

It starts here, with this beefy caterpillar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They will eat through this entire basket of castor leaves in a couple of hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then they spin their cocoons, in these neat little cubicles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If they are allowed to hatch, they become these enormous moths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instead, the cocoons get spun into silk thread. These are women working on spinning wheels like your great great grandmother might have used. They are still going strong in Ethiopia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then the silk is dyed and woven on hand looms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Producing this irresistible cloth. I came away with three scarves, a table runner and a bunch of placemats.

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