Thursday, 6 April 2017

Lotus silk

Have you ever heard of lotus silk weaving?  No, neither had I but when I was at Inle Lake in Myanmar recently I had the opportunity to find out more.

Lotus silk weaving is entirely unique to Myanmar and Inle Lake is the only region in the world where lotus silk is being produced. Artisans extract the delicate fibres from the lotus stem and reel them into a thin thread. The fibres of five long lotus stems will produce about fifty centimetres of lotus silk thread; a labour intensive process that results in an extremely rare and exclusive fabric.

If you look carefully above and you can see the lady cutting and separating the fibres out, they're hand rolled to twist the fine fibres together and then given a good wash.  From there it is passed to the lady, with the modified bike wheel, to wind into a skein ready for dyeing.

But before we go to the dye room, let's have a look around the workshop. Coloured silks are all ready to go...

and finished cloth is priced by weight.  It's VERY expensive, afterall Myanmar is the only place in the world that produces this fibre.

Love the colour! Here the lotus silk has been mixed with traditional silk.

Everywhere I look there's a still life waiting to be captured here,

and here

and here!

Here's the dye kit....

and this too.  You'll be pleased to know that the dye supplies at InStitches are stored in a much more orderly way!

An old 'jam' pan makes a great dye pot

and these wooden trays would not look out of place in my potting shed!

More baskets of odds and ends 

and hanks of yarn waiting to be wound and woven.

Nothing is left unused, even when it's no longer fit for its origional purpose.  So who's going to adapt a couple of old bikes and make a pair of skein winders for InStitches?  If it's you, email us....PLEASE!

The thread is dyed using hot water dyes over wood fires

and by the looks of it it's very hands on.  I had quite a laugh with the dyer over the state of her bare hands!

The colour purple.

And the colour is?

Dyed and prepared thread then comes into the weaving shop.  Can you see the buckets of stones to act as counter weights?

**sigh**just love capturing the everyday bits and bobs,

Here is some undyed fibres being prepped for weaving

And here's it being done.

Nothing is safe from my wandering eye.

Love the shuttles.

So fast..

...the bobbins fly across the loom.

It kept this monk mesmerised, so I was able to take a quick snap of his tattooed back and arms.

Preparing the bobbins, 

which are then already to be slotted into the carried.

I could have stayed all day there.

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