Making and Knowing
A minimal edition of BnF Ms Fr 640 in English Translation

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They are produced from grain, that is eggs, which are sold by the ounce, which is commonly sold in Languedoc 3 lb. and 5 s. The one from Spain brought by merchants is considered to be the best, because the worms coming from it are not so subject to illnesses and produce more silk. In Spain, one ounce of grain gives worms that commonly make 15 lb. of silk. But from one once produced in France, they do not make but 10 or 12. Three ounces of grain are to produce such a quantity of worms, with which you will be able to furnish a room with three or 4 shelves of wide boards. They begin to shed their skin on their own around Easter. And to do this, one has to put them in a pine box, like the ones in which we put pellet, warmly among feather cushions. And in the beginning, they shed their skin as little black ants, and as soon as there are two or three without skin, they have to be given white mulberry leaves. And then arrange them on the boards. And three times per day, it is necessary to change the leaves for fresh ones. And if during the day there is any storm or rainy weather, cloudy and cool, one needs to keep in the room three or 4 embers and with glowing coal, and to light incense until the room is filled with its smoke. And when the weather is warm and serene, they produce more and better silk. Some worms make it whiter, others more yellowish. And even if it is white, it can be yellowed when it is extracted with hot water. From their birth until the moment they make their cocoons and prisons, worms sleep and rest 4 times, and each time they remain 4 or five days resting without eating, as if they were dying so as to be born again, because each one sheds their skin and begins by uncovering the head, then consequently, on different days, the rest of the body, and they go from white to grey, and from grey to white. And if one of them has some sickness and does not have the strength to shed, one needs to help it and to be careful not to squash it, because if it gives off a yellow liquor, it is no longer worth anything. And they do not even serve much if one handles them. Around Pentecost, they begin to want to climb on the dry heather branches that we prepare and attach.

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to some of the upper boards, and one can tell when they want to climb up when, on the leaf, they stretch out and raise their heads and a part of their bodies when one takes them to heather branches where they stop and begin to spin their prison, which we call cocoon, generally the size of a pigeon egg, although there are some which are much bigger because it sometimes happens that two or three and up to 11 worms put themselves in a cocoon, which is hairy and cottony, around which ball is filoselle or floret, and of the cocoon, which is a white, solid, continuous and firm skin, silk is made. The cocoon is so hard that it is cut with difficulty with a fingernail. And yet to leave its prison, the worm eats away at it on one end, and after having stayed inside, living on its own juices for three weeks, it comes out, reduced in size by half. Because when it begins to spin, it is as long as a ring finger and has eight legs, and when it comes out it is less than half as long and only has four legs. On the other hand, it has become a butterfly and has wings; however, it does not fly. There are males and females. As soon as they come out of the cocoon, the male mates with the female, and they are put on a piece of white linen where they lay their eggs, which will not be good and viable if the male was not given to her. When the male has detached himself from a female, one must get rid of it because it would not be good to give it to another female. They finish spinning and laying eggs in three weeks and around Saint John’s Day. And then one keeps their eggs and grain until Holy Week, as mentioned. Some [worms] spin among the leaves and make their cocoons there without climbing high.