The beauty of silk

My first proper blog post, and I thought I would dedicate it to one of my favourite and most used fibres; silk.

I fell in love with silk during university. Knitting on industrial machines is tricky and your choice of yarn can massively affect how successful your knitting is. I found silk to be the perfect balance between strength and elasticity for my fine gauge knitting. Silk yarn also holds colour very well; as a lover of bright, bold colours, this suited my design style perfectly.


So, how did we come to discover silk?

Silk has a long and interesting history. Silk was discovered in China. Legend speaks of Chinese Empress His Ling Shi in 3000BC as being the first person to discover silk. The story is that whilst she was sitting beneath a mulberry tree, sipping her tea, a cocoon fell into her cup and started to unravel. The empress was fascinated by the threads which appeared in her cup and so she tracked down their source which she found to be the Bombyx more silkworm, found in the mulberry tree.

For centuries, the process of silk production was a secret very closely guarded by the Chinese. It was so valuable that it was used as a currency, traded along what was known as the Silk Road, and used to pay government officials and compensate citizens!

With time, the secret of production was uncovered and spread to India, the Middle East and Europe. Italy became a central hub for silk and the textile industry and still is today (most of my silk comes direct from Italy). However, China is still the main producer of silk due to it’s climate in which silkworms thrive.

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Why is it one of the most luxurious natural fibres in the World?

It is beautiful: Most people will recognise silk because it feels so soft against the skin and has a unique shine to it.

The famous shimmering qualities of silk are due to the prism like structure of the yarn. The triangular formation of silk thread reflects like light giving it a stunning reflective quality.

It is natural: Silk comes mainly from silkworms but can also be made by spiders. It is 100% natural and the manmade fabrics you can often see in the shops (such as manmade polyester) trying to emulate silk, do not even come close to having the same qualities as the real thing.

It controls body temperature: Silk has the ability to keep you warm in the cold and cool in the heat. This is why I use it to create my scarves as it keeps you incredibly cosy whilst being very light to wear around your neck. This quality is also great if you are going from cold to hot environments, for example getting on the tube in winter! With silk around your neck you will be much more comfortable going from the freezing cold to the hot tube carriage than you would be in a manmade fibre such as polyester or a bulkier material such as wool.

It is hypoallergenic: Silk is great for people with sensitive skin as it does not irritate skin. Silk does not create static, does not cling to you and does not crease easily.

Silk naturally carries the substance Sericin, which repels dust mites, bed bugs. bacteria and fungus. Silk can therefore be a great choice for bedding if you are an allergy sufferer effected by things such as dust.

It is strong: Whilst it is delicate, silk is very strong. Gram for gram, silk is actually stronger than steel!

As mentioned above, this is a huge factor for me as a knitter as the exquisite balance that silk has between strength, elasticity & delicacy makes it an absolute pleasure to knit with.

These properties also mean that once constructed, the knitted fabric whilst being very lightweight to wear, also feels solid and has a beautiful drape to it which I think is unparalleled by any other fibre.

To conclude, silk is incredible, and that is why absolutely everything from ‘The Glacial Collection’ is hand crafted using silk. To look at the pieces in more detail and shop the collection click here.

Thanks for reading!

Olivia x

Olivia J Holland silk scarf.jpg


First image:

All other images are my own.

pink silk sample.jpg
Olivia Holland