THE REELING OF THE SILKFigs. 8 and 9.To prepare the cocoons for being reeled off, they are first freed from the surrounding floss silk (which cannot be reeled) by mechanical brushes in water of about 90 degrees C. (3 and 4). The beginning of the cocoon filament is found by this procedure. After “brushing”, follows the “reeling” of the silk, that is to say the unbroken cocoon filament is reeled off the cocoon (which inside resembles an empty ball). The single cocoon filament, however, is too thin to be manufactured later on. and, therefore, in order to produce the really suitable silk thread, several cocoon filaments must be run together. The spinner (1) has the difficult task of producing a thread of equal thickness by joining the thick filament of a new cocoon with the thinner one from a cocoon, half of which has been reeled off, and the very thin end of a cocoon which is nearly finished, for the cocoon-thread is wedge-shaped, i.e., it is thick in the beginning and thinner towards its end. Years of practice, and skill transmitted from generation to generation, are necessary for the perfection of this work, the cocoon threads being so very fine, but this accomplishment is the absolute condition for the production of faultless silk texture, because irregularity of the reeled threads causes streaks in the manufactured stocking.
While being drawn off, the cocoons swim in hot water of about 60 degrees C. (2) and a trained spinner manipulates up to 8 silk threads at the same time, each of them—according to the desired strength of the thread—consisting of 3/7 (the average is 5) cocoon filaments. There are, therefore, 24-56 cocoon filaments which, without interruption, must be watched by the spinner with the closest attention, and for the achieving of a regular fabric, the threads must be continually changed as to their composition, so that this may be right proportionately. It will be seen that the spinner must keep observing the stage of reeling of each cocoon—torn filaments must be immediately replaced by new ones—too thick ones by thinner, too thin ones by thicker filaments.
The cocoon filaments which are to be joined into one single thread, run together through a loop over glass rollers on to a turning-reel which winds up the silk into skeins (5 and 6). Then