Posts in Silk History
Pongee

Pongee, like most silks, originates from China. The word even is very Chinese, the etymology of which is penchi, meaning woven at home, or home loom (Fairchilds, p. 474). This is another plain woven silk, but rougher, with a homespun feel to it, versus the fineness of China Silk. Fairchild’s also reports that this is woven in the gum. I hazard to guess what this means as no specific definition is given, but my supposition is that the silk is only mildly washed or not washed at all, prior to weaving. This supposition is supported by the crisp hand of Pongee silk.

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Trash it Tuesday--File Not Found

So we know silk was cultivated for weaving as early as 3,000 BCE, and not just from legend. But I want to know more. Inspired to dig deeper by the lectures of Elizabeth Wayland Barber, I’m digging in to the research. And thanks to a lecture by Kenna Libes, I have a whole host of new resources to dig through in my quest for knowledge. And with the world’s knowledge available, all you have to do is dig.

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That's a Moire

But if China did not invent this technique, and the earliest mangle was located in Norway, than most likely moire was first linen, possibly wool, with silk being discovered by a foolhardy chamber maid who was probably beaten for putting the very expensive silk through a mangle.  Yeah the effect was cool, but what the hell!

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Dupioni--Friend or Foe?

All the variations of spelling mean the same thing--Double.  Doupioni Silk threads are spun from silk cocoons that were spun too close together.  This filament is usually from cultivated silk due to overcrowding.  In the wild, silk worms have lots of room to spread out, so double cocoons rarely happen.  When the filaments are un-spun from the cocoons, there are thicker slubs where the cocoons crossed over.

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A Review: 5000 Years of Chinese Costumes

the most interesting picture I found was on page 120, where there was a photograph of an extant garment.  Labeled as being from Huang Shen's tomb of Southern Song in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, the garment is an Over-dress made from crepe fabric.  Now, in my post on Crepe de Chine, I had said the earliest reference I was able to find to Crepe de Chine was from the 19th century in France. I should have waited to write the Crepe de Chine post.  The Song Dynasty was from 960 to 1279 CE.  

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Crepe de Chine

Like all silks, Crepe de Chine is easily dye-able and when a solid color is fully reversible; however, given that it has a considerably smoother surface than Crepe, it can also be printed on with a fair amount of ease.  In that case, watch for whichever side is brighter, that's your primary.

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