In search of a palate cleanser, I dug out a Work in Progress that has been marinating at least two years. In the process, I ended up going down a silkworm wormhole.
This cowl started with a hand-dyed silk yarn I bought a while back on a trip. I also had a hard little ball of leftover Hand Maiden Sea Silk that needed a destiny.
I made up the pattern, which is basically to *knit 7 roundss in Main Color, knit 1 round Contrast Color, purl 1 round Contrast Color. Repeat from *.
It’s not the greatest thing I ever made, but the yarn is so soft. Sheeny. Silky. What lovely stuff.
As I worked on this, I kept looking at the tag that came with the yarn.
What is Samaya? (Here you go.)
Equally mysterious: How is this yarn vegetarian?
Well, this tag was all it took to send me down the silkworm wormhole.
The first link I clicked was this silkworm blog (of course there’s a silkworm blog) which told me that the issue of vegetarianism in the silk cocoon industry is . . . complicated.
The traditional way to harvest silk is to heat the cocoons until the worms are killed, then the cocoons are reeled into silk thread. Vegetarian silk yarn is made without killing the silkworms that spun the silk.
Do the worms live but the eggs die?
Which is worse, dead worms or dead future generations of worms?
What is the deal with Peace Silk, the tussah silk that is said to preserve the life of the worms before the cocoons are reeled? At least one blogger takes exception to the purity of Peace Silk.
Is child labor used in India to tend to the silkworms?
Is child labor used throughout the silk industry?
I’m looking at a yarn tag, but now I’m wondering about child labor. This chain of thought occurs to me often these days, as sourcing for materials and labor has become a more common subject of investigation. Who made this? Under what circumstances? If you dig hard enough, or in some cases not very hard at all, you can find something unsavory or unethical or dangerous or illegal attached to virtually everything. I suppose it can be galvanizing to discover an injustice attached to a product you buy, an institution you participate in, a belief system you follow.
It can move us to action. But more often, for me anyway, it can also be paralyzing. How can we possibly repair these wrongs?