I learned about lotus thread by a book titled “Material Choices”, several years ago. However, I have never seen the fiber taking and thread making process in person.
Last September, my friend took me to a fiber show in Tokyo. Over there I met a group of people who grow lotus plants and make thread for weaving. But their way of taking fibers is different from the way which is practicing in Myanmar.
So, there are two different ways to make threads and each one has its own name in Japanese.
The first one is “Guushi(藕糸)” which is made from fresh lotus plant stems.
Here is a video on YouTube.
The very fine fibers or like filaments appear between two broken surfaces. The thread is made by these fine filaments with some twists. I took this picture below when I tried to take fibers myself with Japanese lotus. It was two days after the harvest, so the number of filaments were fewer and shorter.
I think that Myanmar is the biggest producing place for lotus thread and fabric because in this country, this fabric is generally dedicated for Buddhist priests.
From the book of “Mterial Choices”
Thread dyed with safflower. The original grayish color of lotus thread makes safflower pink rather purple.
The lotus fabric dyed by a dyer, Tsuda Chieko. Very fluffy and light weight fabric.
The other type of thread is called “Kashi (茄糸)” in Japanese. The image below is the lotus stems cooked with lye. I bought a bunch of them and made thread out of the extracted fibers.
It needs to be moist before splitting and connect each end then wove a sampler. Its touch is less smoother than the lotus fabric with fresh fiber. It is stiffer too.