Written by Joyce Martin / eleven-years-old / 1954
6th Grade – Mrs. Farrington’s Class – Jackson Avenue School – Room 202
I have been fascinated with Japan since elementary school. My curiosity began with a class assignment to write a report about another country. Since I lived on Long Island, I chose to write about the island country Japan. Over the years I have collected vintage blue & white Japanese fabric and learned to stitch sashiko (a kind of running stitch embroidery practiced by farmers’ and fisherman’s wives in the 1600’s).
I now teach sashiko and design patterns for my company, Sashiko Southwest.
The Silk Worm
I was born on a leaf. A Mulberry leaf to be exact. I was a little egg, and I was born on the same leaf as 200 other eggs.
Our leaf was then stored with many other leaves in a cool, dark place until spring when we hatched. We were about one-fourth of an inch long and we were dark in color. We right away climbed to a tray covered with mulberry leaves and we started to eat. As we are eating we hear two farmers discussing something.
“Every egg hatched. I was lucky I caught that batch in time, they were just ready of the incubator,” said one man two the other.
“Incubator? What’s he talking about?” I asked. An older worm stopped eating long enough to explain , “You and your sisters and brothers were placed in an incubator with a high temperature. You didn’t notice the change because you were worried about getting out.”
“Oh,” I said and went back to eating. For 4 or 5 weeks we just ate and slept always growing rapidly. We were growing so rapidly that we had to change our skin 4 times before we were full grown.
I would like to tell you about our home. We lived in a tray and were fed fresh mulberry leaves. In six weeks we were ready to spin our cocoons.
First we spun a long thread which hardens. We fastened this thread to ourselves then we covered ourselves completely. This takes 3 or 4 days.
Some of us were chosen and put on trays. I was one of these few. In a few days I was cutting the threads of my cocoon. During this period of time I had turned into a moth.
“I know,” he answered turning towards me. “I heard the children talking about it.”
“Alright,” he consented, “First they put the cocoons into an oven until the worm is killed. Then they unwind the threads of the cocoon. After that the threads are wound on reels. The thread is too thin so be machines twist the threads till they are thick.
“Then these threads are washed in soapy water.”
“Look here comes Shu-Ming the farmer’s daughter.” I said as the pretty child approached
“See that dress she has on?” he asked me.
“Sure it’s so shiny looking,” I said again turning towards Shu-Ming.
“That dress was made of our cocoons,” he said looking at me intently. “Each thread of that dress took five cocoons to make.”
I agreed as I started to lay my eggs. I am dying now but I hope you have learned something about silk.