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A New Silk.

For a long time the mulberry silkworm has been the sole producer of silk known in Europe, and no other species has been able to rival it for the beauty of the silky staple of its cocoon. But now, after more than 30 years’ persistent epidemics, it is really at a loss that producers attempt to maintain hero and there, without any certainty for the following year, a few siikworm nurseries. For about a dozen years an imported moth has become a French insect, living in a free state and effecting its reproduction without any interference on the part of man. In winter there may be seen hanging to the leafless branches long cocoons of a pretty pearly grey. These are the work of the caterpillar of “attaous cynthia,” or ailanto silkworm, introduced into France by the Acclimatisation Society, under the direction of The animal is now as much at home in France as in its native habitats, as robust, as large, and as well-colored as in the north of India and China. No great welcome has hitherto been given to the new comer in France. The cocoon is not very rich in silk, it is strongly incrusted, and on this account, presents difficulty in weaving. Attempts have been made to wind it; but the winding yields only the single thread of the cocoon—too fine to be used, and requiring special and expensive machinery. This question has now, however, been taken up and solved by M. le Doux. He has succeeded to some extent in separating the gum from the silk, permitting the threads to be drawn with great ease, and preserving to them, at the same time, sufficient natural glue to admit of the threads of several cocoons wound at the same time being, by the operation of twilling, twisted together and giving strands of raw silk, the only kind that can be utilised in weaving. Another chief point in the discovery of M. le Doux is that this production of raw silk is obtained with the same pans and the same hand processes as ordinary raw silk, so that no objection can now be used on the score of expense. The specimens of the silk produced are of a pretty blonde color, and make charming stuffs of “dcru” color. Moreover, both French and English dyers will know how to give the silk a variety of colors. The rearing of this new silkworm requires neither care nor expense. The wild moths look after themselves, and it only remains to collect the cocoons attached to the leaves or small branches. The ailanto tree of Japan, on which the worm feeds, is of rapid growth, and admirably adapted for covering waste spaces.

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A New Silk. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 14, 28 October 1879

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