Gold of Assam

I found a sericulture collective in Cooch Behar that raises the elusive and *amazingly* beautiful Muga silk, Antheraea assamensis. They sent me a packet of samples. I’m SO buying some of this stuff as soon as possible.

These are muga cocoons – the Gold of Assam. They’re substantial, although thinner than Bombyx cocoons.

They can supply reeled muga yarn in two different qualities, hand-reeled and machine-reeled. This is hand reeled. It shines like polished gold or brass.

You can see that it’s untwisted filament, held together by the gum. It is a little bit stiff.

Let’s just look at the silk for just a moment. Ah, yes.

This is the machine-reeled muga. It’s twisted during the reeling process, so it has a little more consistency and strength, but a little less sheen.

Closeup of the machine-reeled muga.

As with all the silk varieties, waste from reeling is never wasted. This is mill-spun muga yarn. It’s about a 2/50’s or so.

This is the “muga wrapped tasar” yarn. I’m not 100% sure which part is what.

This is a really beautiful chainette. It’s softer than the other muga yarns. I think it’s probably made from the machine reeled filament, with some of the gum boiled off. It should make nice yarn for knitting.

Ghicha is a variety of yarn hand-spun from the remainder of cocoons after the “good stuff” is reeled off. It’s got a lot of character. Oh, and that’s a dime, for those of you who haven’t seen the old Mercury style. It’s the same size as a modern Eisenhower dime.

They also make Eri yarn. This is a thick-and-thin singles, with quite a range of thickness.

This is the sweet, sweet set of swatches they sent. There are several blends with muga and other silks, with linen, with cotton, with tasar. These are all handloom fabrics.

Muga x cotton

Muga x linen

Muga x cotton in a jacquard pattern of leaves and flowers

Muga and tasar. I think the muga is the background, the tasar is the lumpy thick yarn.

High-twist muga x cotton.

For me, the best piece is this large chunk of 100% hand-reeled muga. It’s got a sheen like nothing else. The hand of this silk is fairly stiff, because it is left in the gum.

37 replies
  1. an_sceal
    an_sceal says:

    I love it when you post pictures! You’ve got a great eye and a steady hand for such difficult material.

    And that silk is to DIE for. Wow. I’d never even heard of it.

  2. ophanim
    ophanim says:

    That’s gorgeous.

    So if one were to inquire about purchasing silk yarn from you, how best might one frame the inquiry? 🙂

    More specifically, I’d love ~2000 yards of yarn about this weight in a dark aubergine.

  3. annina_writes
    annina_writes says:

    OMG, it is to die for! The gold of that hand reeled muga…it really does look like gold…or the golden blond hair of a girl. Amazing! Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. admin
    admin says:

    Re: That’s gorgeous.

    I’m not (currently, at least) in the yarn-selling business. I’m considering doing a co-op on some of these silks, but it would just be taking people’s money and using it to purchase the silk, rather than me buying it and marking it up.

  5. ophanim
    ophanim says:

    Re: That’s gorgeous.

    I’m not (currently, at least) in the yarn-selling business.

    Well, at least it’s encouraging to know that you could be, eh?

    Please do post if you decide to pursue the co-op!

  6. selkie_b
    selkie_b says:

    *picks chin off floor*

    Wow! That stuff is stunning! It makes my fingers itch to sew something exquisite! Hand embroidered tunic jacket…A-line skirt…. purrrrrrr…….

    bet you didn’t know seals could purr 😉

  7. admin
    admin says:

    Yeah – I’m thinking tailored shirt, probably of the tasar/muga blend or one of the other lighter ones (the muga/muga is pretty stiff) and then a hand-reeled muga vest. Or maybe just go all the way Indian (I have the patterns!) and do a salwar kurta…

    and I wouldn’t know whether or not seals could purr… I’ve never scratched one under the chin!

  8. selkie_b
    selkie_b says:

    actually they make funny little rumbly groaning noises…I did rehab work for a couple summers

    I was thinking a kurta too – that would show off the most fabric to best effect. Or even a haori if Japanese is something you like. The Folkwear pattern is quite nice, I’ve made many for my husband’s old dojo.

  9. admin
    admin says:

    I’ve got the Jewels of India; I skipped the Japanese costumes, because for some reason they’ve never really appealed to me.

    I’ve found myself seriously looking at dhoti kurta – but I’m not sure that, even as weird as I am, I could find a place to wear dhoti!

  10. wanderdrossel
    wanderdrossel says:

    That is incredible. Out of curiousity, why do they leave the gum in? I’m guessing it holds the hand reeled stuff without a lot of twist together, but why leave it in the stuff that has a lot of twist? Or has the high twist stuff been de gummed?

    So pretty…

  11. admin
    admin says:

    I think the high-twist still has the gum in it, but I’m not sure.

    They leave the gum in for a number of reasons. It makes the fabric stronger, it helps keep it from snagging, it gives garments more body (like having starch) and makes them hang right.

    I haven’t tried this with any of the Antheraea silks, but I have a piece of Bombyx organza (a fine stiff raw silk, used mostly for draperies and bridal) that I have degummed a chunk of – I use it in demos to show the difference the gum makes. The fabric with the gum in it is crisp, stiff, and translucent; the fabric with the gum boiled out is fluttery, very soft, snags easily, and has *no* body.

    I need to take photos of that and put them on my degumming page. The two of them hanging from push pins would make it really clear.

    With Bombyx, the gum dulls the sheen, and degummed silks are shinier. I am pretty sure (again, haven’t tested this) that the Antheraea are the opposite – the gum has some of the natural sheen, and the degummed silk is more matte. If I get around to sampling with that, I’ll post results.

  12. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    How do I get my hands on that stuff!!!?

    That is absolutely gorgeous… how do I get my hands on that stuff?

    I don’t know if you have a resale license or not, but I do and can probably get it wholesale if you’d like to coop on this.

    Ames
    ames_hall@hotmail.com

  13. admin
    admin says:

    Re: How do I get my hands on that stuff!!!?

    Ames,

    I’m actually thinking of a co-op – but more in the ‘pool our money and each buy some’ sense, rather than the ‘buy stock and sell it off’ sense. If you want a little, I’d be happy to place your order along with mine; if you want a lot, I’d be willing to share the vendor’s information or help to broker a transaction.

  14. admin
    admin says:

    Re: That’s gorgeous.

    I’m not going to make a separate post about this, because I’m trying to keep it small – but if you are still interested in the co-op purchase, you can email me at wormspit@gmail.com – it will be at least a couple of weeks beofre I get everything nailed down as far as pricing and shipping, etc.

  15. fourth_moon
    fourth_moon says:

    ***bliss***

    Okay. I just got to try and raise silk caterpillars one of these days. For now, spinning wool and silk and cleaning the drool of my keyboard has to do.

    Gah are those beautiful. That’s just the silk that looks like that? Not colored or treated or anything?

  16. fourth_moon
    fourth_moon says:

    ***bliss***

    Okay. I just got to try and raise silk caterpillars one of these days. For now, spinning wool and silk and cleaning the drool of my keyboard has to do.

    Gah are those beautiful. That’s just the silk that looks like that? Not colored or treated or anything?

  17. admin
    admin says:

    Just the silk looks like that. Of course, this is special silk – it’s Muga, from a species of silkmoth raised in the tropical parts of eastern India. The ones we can raise here, don’t look like that. Although, I do want to try and reel thread from Polyphemus cocoons, which are related to Muga.

  18. admin
    admin says:

    Just the silk looks like that. Of course, this is special silk – it’s Muga, from a species of silkmoth raised in the tropical parts of eastern India. The ones we can raise here, don’t look like that. Although, I do want to try and reel thread from Polyphemus cocoons, which are related to Muga.

  19. fourth_moon
    fourth_moon says:

    That’s the thing about tinkerers and crafters: Sentences like “you can’t do that yourself” are usually taken as challenges.

    I take it there will be pictures of your results?

    I really enjoy your journal – the images are just beautiful and inspiring (that kid with the silk caterpillar on his hand? So cute!) and spark of at least half a dozen things I want to try next.

    I love the knotwork on your tablet woven bands, I tried a pattern like that once but wasn’t happy with the result. I think I saw one picture (mulberry bush on a black silk tablet band?) which looked like embroidery. Do you mix those techniques?

  20. fourth_moon
    fourth_moon says:

    That’s the thing about tinkerers and crafters: Sentences like “you can’t do that yourself” are usually taken as challenges.

    I take it there will be pictures of your results?

    I really enjoy your journal – the images are just beautiful and inspiring (that kid with the silk caterpillar on his hand? So cute!) and spark of at least half a dozen things I want to try next.

    I love the knotwork on your tablet woven bands, I tried a pattern like that once but wasn’t happy with the result. I think I saw one picture (mulberry bush on a black silk tablet band?) which looked like embroidery. Do you mix those techniques?

  21. admin
    admin says:

    Hee. Well, let me phrase it differently… the only commercial silkmoth that it’s legal to have in the US, is Bombyx mori. We can’t get Muga here. I do plan to get the cocoons (dead) from India, and see if I can reel silk like they do. I certainly plan to put my results up, once I can get some results!

    I do often mix those techniques. I don’t like to mix them within a single line, because it’s very complicated – I’ve done it, but it’s tough. Brocading uses supplemental shuttles, and double-face just manipulates the threads with the tablets.

  22. admin
    admin says:

    Hee. Well, let me phrase it differently… the only commercial silkmoth that it’s legal to have in the US, is Bombyx mori. We can’t get Muga here. I do plan to get the cocoons (dead) from India, and see if I can reel silk like they do. I certainly plan to put my results up, once I can get some results!

    I do often mix those techniques. I don’t like to mix them within a single line, because it’s very complicated – I’ve done it, but it’s tough. Brocading uses supplemental shuttles, and double-face just manipulates the threads with the tablets.

  23. fourth_moon
    fourth_moon says:

    I’ve worked with double-face, very pretty effect, and looks good on belts.

    Ehm. What does “withing a single line” mean? On one warp, that is, on the same piece you’re working with?

    (Sorry, non-native speaker. I still run over technical expression which I’m not sure about.)

  24. fourth_moon
    fourth_moon says:

    I’ve worked with double-face, very pretty effect, and looks good on belts.

    Ehm. What does “withing a single line” mean? On one warp, that is, on the same piece you’re working with?

    (Sorry, non-native speaker. I still run over technical expression which I’m not sure about.)

  25. admin
    admin says:

    Within a single line of weaving, or a single line on the chart. I use two different kinds of graphs for these – I will often have a ribbon with a double face section, and then a brocade section, and then another double face section…. but not double face and brocade happening at the same time.

  26. admin
    admin says:

    Within a single line of weaving, or a single line on the chart. I use two different kinds of graphs for these – I will often have a ribbon with a double face section, and then a brocade section, and then another double face section…. but not double face and brocade happening at the same time.

  27. admin
    admin says:

    Not yet… a sudden lack of disposable funds managed to coincide with a stretch of being too busy to pull together an order. I need to get back around to it one of these days.

  28. vishnu harshan
    vishnu harshan says:

    the informations are really really helpful. I’m from south India. i wish 2 know about the informations to know the availability of respected fabrics. can you help us?

  29. vishnu harshan
    vishnu harshan says:

    the informations are really really helpful. I\’m from south India. i wish 2 know about the informations to know the availability of respected fabrics. can you help us?

  30. owais
    owais says:

    hi. I would really like to get muga silk for my self and would really appreciate it if you could share the vendor’s info or someone who can have my order and ship it to me. Thanks a bunch!!

  31. JOGENDRA PRATAP SINGH
    JOGENDRA PRATAP SINGH says:

    I saw your collection. Its beautiful. We are also one of the leading Manufacturer for Muga silk yarns, Fabrics & beautiful Tussah & Eri fabrics & yarns. We are one of the oldest company and having huge range & design of beautiful WILD Silk fabrics and we can ship them directly to client home , if anyone interested to buy from us. We assure 100% that, our price will be much less than any company in india. But the purity is 100% there. So if want to have a look at my website, then visit us : http://www.jphandloom.com/ . Please have a look, and i am sure, it will impress anyone who wants to start any business of yarns or fabrics & of you are already doing, then ask for the best price.

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