Monday, 12 January 2009


In writing my bibliography I was startled to discover I had not written about a very, very good book that I discovered last year on silk. I did write on "Silk: what every weaver should know", with details of other books, so I must have purchased this particular book after I'd published that entry. I also wrote last May on the local history of silk spinning and weaving.

I was hunting high and low for information about silk as I wanted to know all about silk production so I could understand the yarns available, and also because I like to see the things in my life as part of a bigger picture. A yarn has more meaning if I know and understand: where does it start and where will it end?

Yes, I am turning philosophical now - I think it is important to know because we all make decisions that effect other people, and the sequence - what we acquire, how we use it, where it goes when we are finished - is a process that contributes to shape the world we live in.

I was also motivated by having bought some yarn of a quality that I thought was rather poor for expensive silk. More exploration showed I had bought relatively cheap, maybe this was part of the problem. It was full of knots and all wispy at the edges. I queried with the seller whether it really was thrown silk, as claimed, they told me they had it checked by an expert and and that it was (but there was no written report, so I don't know quite what the expert said)... and I thought thrown silk was made from long continuous filament and shouldn't have wispy ends protruding. So I hunted high and low on the internet to learn more.

This book which I found is about the big picture, it is:
Global Silk Industry: A complete source book, by Rajat K Datta and Mahesh Nanavaty, published by Universal Publishers, USA, 2005, ISBN 1-58112-493.
I found and bought it via, it was inexpensive - at a time when the dollar-pound exchange rate was more favourable!

The authors are well qualified. Rajat K Datta is a retired director of International and National Sericulture Research Institutes in India (author of 300 scientific and technical papers) and Mahesh Nanavaty has worked for over 30 years in the silk industry, in the USA and India. The foreword is written by Xavier Gavyn Lavergne, as Secretary General of the International Silk Association.

As regards the content of the book, the preface has this neat summary
"Here are gathered, indeed, the main information and anaylsis regarding the history of production and trade of this exceptional fiber, from the origins of silk to the 21st century, covering the important changes in the silk scenario notably in the course of the 20th centruy, which explain today's situation and enlighten the future."

So we have history, we have a chapter looking at silk in relation to other fibres, an overview of the global silk industry today, and several chapters on silk production. There are reports on current and developing technology, and on the uses and market / marketing of silk.

However, this is not a heavyweight textbook, it is a paperback, 352 pages plus appendices and I found it a good read. Not only that, it filled in many gaps for me, I'm happier now that I understand how to find the quality of silk, and type of yarns, I want to buy, and where my use of silk fits in to the big picture.


Helen said...

Hi Dorothy this book sounds quite fantastic- you are so clever at finding good books which illuminate some part of our craft. I think this is one I want to get! Mind you I love buying books so I don't need much excuse.
I hope you are starting to feel better after your bout of 'flu. When the consultant told me I needed 6 weeks to recover I got quite a shock I think we are all a bit too impatient and need to give ourselves time.

Leigh said...

Sounds like an excellent resource. Very timely too, considering this is the International Year of Natural Fibres. I'll have to see if I can get my hands on a copy of this.

Sue said...

Sounds like an interesting book! Some day I'll weave something with silk....but I haven't ventured into that territory yet.

I wanted to pop in and thank you for answering my question about apron rods on my Toika loom in my blog. Thanks for saving me from researching that one!!!


Barbara Blundell said...

Good luck with your bibliography,Dorothy.
Think it is always interesting to follow development from source to's a bit like preparing and using fleece from a named sheep. I've had a 'Blossom' and a 'Marilyn' amongst others !

Hope you are fully recovered by now

Dorothy said...

It's good to hear from a few people. I think those of you with a serious interest in your yarns & fibres are going to enjoy the silk book ;)

I'll be watching Sue's loom with interest, as she is restoring an old Toika.

Thanks for the kind wishes re. my recovery from flu. I'm quite a lot better and plan to wind a warp for the loom now, however, I have still not got my speaking voice back, although you'd not know it from the garrulous way I type!!

Barbara Blundell said...

Hi Dorothy,
No posts. Boo hoo. Hope you are O.K. and busy working.We've had some lovely sunny days. Hope you have !

sampling said...

Dorothy, this may be of interest to you:
They do residency programs on the farm including silk production and weaving. I saw of demonstration of the weaving last year and it was amazing!