The textile industry plays an instrumental role in the history of the canton of Zurich. Of particular importance is the Zurich silk industry. The silk trade was the leading manufacturing industry in the canton of Zurich from 1840 to 1900. There are records of silk being made in Zurich as far back as the Middle Ages, and a number of workshops sprang up all around the country, but in 1914 the last silk factory was closed in Ticino.
Zurich thrived during the 1850s and 1860s, when it became the second largest silk producer in the world, internationally famous for black taffeta and bolting cloths for sifting flour. After 1930 the textile industry went into steady decline, and many silk companies closed their businesses.
Efforts began some years ago to draw attention to the importance of the Zurich silk industry and preserve the remaining textile archives. In 2009 a group of innovative farmers got together with the aim of promoting the breeding of silkworms and reintroducing the manufacture of silk products.
Led by Ueli Ramseier, a farmer and textile engineer from canton Bern, they set up the Swiss Silk Association.
So far the association has produced 20 kilograms â€“ enough to make 150 ties and 30 scarves, which are being sold under the label `Weisbrodâ€™.
Silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberrysilkwormBombyx mori, reared in captivity.
Breeding silkworms is quite challenging. The insects only thrive in the right climate.
The creatures mate quickly after emerging from their chrysalis, and die a day or so after laying their eggs. There are 12 silkworm breeders in Switzerland
For the first time in 100 years, silk is being produced in Switzerland.
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