Every kid in my primary school reared these little critters. No one knew how to release the silk from the capsules. In many ways the little animal's lives were in vain as a passing fad and no new generations to follow.
My Dad made me a tiny silk roller....for a better word. A little thing with a handle to roll the silk up. He was exceptional though.
Did you recover some silk? No one I know ever did.
Sure did. We used to have little skeins of beautiful yellow silk. Lord knows what happened to them in the end. Probably thrown out by my Mum.
Very similar story to yours Lissa, and I 'd guess that mine are still pressed in a book ...
The cocoon would be placed in a cup of water, evidentially us kids would find the main thread that would keep it spinning for quite some time, and eventually, you'd get the brown pupae/shell.
From memory, most of the moths would still emerge later on.