Why Peace Silk Pisses Me Off

I’ve been stewing over this for a while… usually every time that somebody emails me to tell me that I’m a horrible person, and that I should only use Tussah silk, because it’s “Peace Silk”, gathered from the jungle only after the moth has flown away happy and satisfied.

It just ain’t so.

My take on Peace Silk:

0 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    PS – *LOVE* your “Fluffy Bunny” icon. I hadn’t made the mental connection before. It’s so CUTE (and probably also delicious!)

  2. vicki_sine
    vicki_sine says:

    No doubt, but it is a friend’s pet, so aside from contributing to a bit of spinning for someone occasionally, it is probably spoiled rotten.

  3. rosecolette
    rosecolette says:

    Thank you for the very informative write up. I’d heard the name before but never understood how “peace silk” was supposed to be different.

  4. paroxytone
    paroxytone says:

    That was an awesome read.

    Personally, if you’re going to be vegan, you have no business bothering with any animal products either direct or derived period.

  5. sunfell
    sunfell says:

    Thanks for that insightful article. I’ve begun to realize that there are folks who dwell in a wishful thinking wonderland- where nothing dies or is killed and all is harmony. The key word here being nothing.

    Being an essentially rational person, I know that such an extreme is impossible to sustain, nor is it desirable. (Neither is total anarchy, but we won’t go there…)

    Sparkle-fluffy-bunny vegan-land™ sounds like a kind of hell, if you ask me- I’d hate to be afraid that I was harming something (oxygen-nitrogen?) just to merely exist. And those poor water molecules…

    But I digress. I believe in balance- and actual situational awareness. If I am aware of a situation, and understand that my actions can have an impact- I will take those actions within reason.

    I’ve seen the killing floor of a slaughterhouse. And I’ve seen the slaughter of lovingly raised, well-treated animals. Yes, I hated the conditions the cattle had to deal with before their deaths- Temple Grandin did a lot to fix that.

    But death is as much a part of life as anything. We are all in a constant state of dying and being reborn simply by living. Our bodies kill and recycle cells and bacteria every second. The act of bathing kills bazillions of bacteria on our skins.

    I suppose that there will always be people who have zealous delusions of mythical perfection- like the people who hassle you about your silk operation. If they knew how many eggs and larvae died in nature, maybe they’d be less likely to pounce on you and others. But I doubt it- rationality is not a core feature/function of the zealous mind- only conversion and their view of ‘perfection’ are.

  6. travspence
    travspence says:

    The title of this post cracks me up. 🙂

    Thanks for the informative post. Peace silk came up in conversation with a vegan friend a while back. On the surface it sounded cool but I didn’t give it much thought.

  7. reedrover
    reedrover says:

    mythical perfection

    You picked the right phrase here. Only in myths do creatures live immortal lives on ever-renewing grapes (if the universe is a closed system, where does that energy come from?) and bottomless mead… oh, wait. Honey is robbed from poor unsuspecting bees. I guess the gods will have to drink water from now on.

    Levity aside, I appreciate OakenKing posting this information. To be honest, I have not really given silk much thought. Thanks to an old children’s book (They Loved to Laugh by Katheryn Worth), I know exactly where silk comes from and what goes into its production in a small-scale way. I hadn’t known about “peace silk” and the activists/activity surrounding silk politics. Now I do. And I have a perspective on where it all comes from and where it all goes. Thanks.

  8. aberrant1
    aberrant1 says:

    Totally off topic, but it occurred to me this morning as I was walking through five separate webs to get out my front gate. Do you know if spiderwebs have ever been used in fiber production?

    If not, someone should try it — Florida would have a new cash crop.

  9. admin
    admin says:

    There were some attempts – and I think that if I remember correctly, somebody got enough spider silk to make a pair of ladies’ gloves some time in the early Colonial America period. The problem is that they’re naturally difficult to raise effectively – if you put 10 spiders in one box, you end up with one fat spider and 9 drained husks.

  10. cgronlund
    cgronlund says:

    Peacesilk users telling you that you’re horrible for what you doesn’t sound peaceful to me.

    But then, there are many animal rights activists who bother me.

    I wouldn’t call myself a vegan. When I explain that I’m a very strict vegetarian, others brand me vegan. The wallet in my back pocket and the shoes I wear on my feet most days aren’t made of animal products.

    But the windshield in my car, the plastics in my computers, and many other things I use: they are made with animal products. There’s no way around it and I’m not going to pretend that I can ever live a life where nothing around me suffers.

    Insects and animals (small rodents) die during the factory farming of the vegetables that make up my diet. If I can get locally grown produce, I do, but it’s not something that’s always possible, and I don’t lose sleep over it. A life of strict vegetarianism is still the life I’ve found works best for me, but arguments can always go many ways.

    It could be said there is more suffering in large scale vegetable farming than somebody on their own farm taking a chicken now and then. I know somebody who I would consider a vegan through and through who has chickens in a coop that’s heated in winter and cooled in the summer, but he has eggs now and then. I’d still consider the guy a vegan because he is an activist for animal rights and his chickens have free roaming rights to his very large garden. There is no suffering involved in his consumption of the occasional egg.

    Ideally, I’d love a world where people think about large scale farming: both for vegetables and especially livestock. And I wish people would look at people before they cast angry judgment on others.

    There are traditions I’d hate to see die. One of those traditions is what you do. The effort you put into your art is impressive and inspiring. Yes, we can argue about suffering all day, but suffering happens. It’s not a large scale operation where you’re destroying things for profit. You’re keeping a tradition alive, and I always love seeing your posts and what you are up to.

  11. admin
    admin says:


    I’ve gotten a lot of thoughtful, smart emails from vegetarians over the years – honestly, the “You’re a monster” emails have been virulent, but thankfully few.

    I appreciate your position, and I’m glad that it works for you.

  12. aberrant1
    aberrant1 says:

    Oh. Yeah. Good point!

    The ones around here seem to live in relative harmony, I suspect because there are so many other things for them to eat. But I doubt people want to raise zillions of mosquitoes and spiders to get spider silk.

  13. admin
    admin says:

    Yeah – and I imagine that if you just walked around with a web-collection net, you’d end up spending so much time cleaning the bugs (and the spiders!) out of your fiber, that it wouldn’t work out. You would probably have to spook each spider off the net, carefully take it down without wadding it up, comb it out… like I said, it can be done, just not practically for any sort of production

  14. chefxh
    chefxh says:

    You make a cogent argument about a subject of which I know nothing, but you have convinced me there is no real “peace silk.”

  15. batbuds
    batbuds says:

    As always, you are insightful, intelligent, and tremendously entertaining to read… Thanks for sharing again… I can honestly say I am proud to have gotten to meet you, and continually be educated by you!

    Keep the faith! *grin*

  16. elmsley_rose
    elmsley_rose says:

    Thankyou for this article.

    This issue came up for a Buddhist friend of mine a few months ago, and we went nearly nuts trying to decide whether it was really ok for her or not.

    **newsflash** I got my very first silk (other than a bit of Madeira I found in a charity shop, in cream). It’s Splendor, (filament :-), in 6 shades, 2 yds of each.
    It’s for my Historical Sampler.
    I love it.
    I’ve been stroking it, and looking at it.

    There’s a LOT there- 3 plies, and several threads in each plie. 2 yards is going to be heaps, on my scale of things. (very very small)

  17. elmsley_rose
    elmsley_rose says:


    Have you seen that scene in the original Indiana Jones, where he’s in the tomb with a lot LOT of snakes?

    It was filmed with a glass panel between him and the snakes, btw.

    But they left them overnight, and the same sort of thing happened. Not that they had fat pythons – but they had a lot of dead snakes.


  18. perspicuity
    perspicuity says:

    i love it.

    had a similar rant a while ago, but not with so many facts and figures. the basic part of the “okay, so they raise 6,000,0000 moths, and THOSE make babies, then they die” was spot on.

    uppity vegans really can’t wear a lot of things without affecting life. cotton? just try it without insecticides.

    now, if they want to follow artic muskox and pick up shed fur, yay! but really, i can’t think of much of anything that doesn’t affect some cycle of life. even metal. oiy!


  19. hopeevey
    hopeevey says:

    Thank you! That’s a great article 🙂 I really appreciate how it focused on the reality of silk practices, without disdaining anyone’s decision about whether or not to use any particular silk product.

    For me, my vegetarianism was more of an environmental, than a moral decision, but that’s a whole different discussion 🙂

  20. tilia_tomentosa
    tilia_tomentosa says:

    I finally found the time to take A VERY GOOD LOOK at Cheryl Kolander’s site, and just as I feared, she simply didn’t inform her potential followers how much silkworms breed! Well, I suppose it wouldn’t seem very “peaceful” to some of them if they learned how many eggs they would have to destroy. And of course the moths wouldn’t die HAPPY if you try to prevent them from mating, that’s what all their adult life is about after all.
    Even I, whose silkworms are just pets, can’t help destroying HUNDREDS of eggs because I can’t ask my moths to lay just as many as I need for breeding. And this is what Mother Nature does to the offspring of wild insects to keep them from breeding out of all proportion.
    Oddly, this is just I wanted to tell that kind lady that commented to your Looking for Input entry with some misguided piece silk talk, and then you raised the question yourself. So you did well to write this article to inform people how things actually are.

  21. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    This is a very interesting point. The act of living itself involves the act of killing on some level. It is part of the great cycle of life. Ahimsa is interesting, but I think it’s a slippery slope.

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