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Lately I have been shifting towards a greener horizon. Specifically, I have been asked to design some eco-friendly pieces for a few boutiques and I gladly took on the challenge. I am wary of labels. I don’t wish to be an eco-designer or activist at the moment. I do wish, however, to take small steps towards lessening my business’s carbon footprint by utilizing materials I adore which are also organic or eco-friendly.

To my surprise, I found out that one of my most commonly utilized fabrics falls under the “eco” category: silk habotai, or China silk. Silk comes from silkworms. The worms feed off of the White Mulberry tree and after about 10 days the larvae enclose themselves in a cocoon of raw silk produced in the salivary glands that provides protection during the vulnerable, almost motionless pupal state. The cocoon is made of 1 thread of raw silk from 300 to about 900 meters (1,000 to 3,000 feet) long! I find this terribly astounding and have always loved silk for it. About 2,000 to 3,000 cocoons are required to make 1 pound of silk.

If the worm is allowed to survive after spinning its cocoon, it will release proteolytic enzymes to make a hole in the cocoon so that it can emerge as a moth. This would cut the single continuous thread into many short segments. To prevent this, silkworm cocoons are boiled. Some people think this is not very nice. That’s where silk habotai comes in: silk habotai thread is made by joining the broken threads of a damaged cocoon. The fabric made from these rescued threads has small bumps from the joints and does indeed have an organic quality. If the silk farmers used no pesticides on the Mulberry leaves the silk is also classified as organic.

For now I am being supplied with raw silk noil and crepe de chine from <a href =“http://www.dharmatrading.com/&#8221;&gt; Dharma Trading Co which all began with an acid trip. Really. Anyway, the silk is wonderful: quality, price & time consistent. I just placed my second order.


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    Dec 14, 2009, 01.55 PMby mirela

    I usually find a lot of beautiful silk at really low prices at fashionfabricsclub but i doubt that it is raw or organic or habotai…

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    Dec 13, 2009, 05.11 PMby shiborigirl

    I would agree with silkswithattitude. even though green is my favorite color, i question the “green-ness” of product that is individually wrapped in very non-green plastic packaging. i’d love to get my silk without all the plastic bagging…especially since i order it in bulk. buying yardage instead of hemmed scarves is one way to go.

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    Dec 10, 2009, 06.08 PMby ichigogirl

    I LOVE silk! If I could choose I’d only wear silk- and wool-blends (I guess I could choose to if I really set my mind on it!). Great tip about the habotai-source, but for some reason Sweden is one of few countries they don’t ship fabric to, wonder why…? Fortunately loyl8’s alternative, nearseanaturals, do, thanks for that bonus-tip!

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    Dec 10, 2009, 05.24 PMby tangerine-dreams

    I’m slow today… what began with an acid trip?

  • Capelet3small_large

    Dec 10, 2009, 03.53 PMby tangerine-dreams

    I’m slow today… what began with an acid trip?

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    Dec 9, 2009, 07.28 PMby silkswithattitude

    I would ask Dharma if the habotai is organic. For the amount of non-renewable packaging they use, I question if they are still as stuck to their original values now that the next generation is at the helm.

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    Dec 9, 2009, 07.03 PMby dianakreider

    I traveled to South Korea this year and discovered that silkworm larvae are consumed after harvesting. Everywhere I went, a pot of simmering larvae were available for snacking with a rice stick. Nothing goes to waste.

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      Dec 12, 2009, 03.43 AMby alisondahl

      Really? How interesting. Did you try any?

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    Dec 9, 2009, 01.08 AMby damianadesigns

    I love silk too, it’s so luxurious and a natural fiber. Very cool. Silk habotai is so great because of its characteristic nubs which just adds to the beauty, in my opinion. Love Dharma Trading too, get so much of my materials from them! Great customer service :D!

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    Dec 8, 2009, 11.37 PMby ashchaser

    I am really starting to enjoy working with it when I can, but I haven’t known where to go to get tussah or habotai silk here in Nashville. So far I love both of these sites and hopefully I will be able to purchase a yard or two soon!

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    Dec 8, 2009, 10.39 PMby loyl8

    Ill have to check them out…there is also another place that sells raw peace silk, meaning no silk worms are harmed. they are based out of new mexico. the whole wesite is eco friendly fabric. www.nearseanaturals.com

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