Well, I have. And I may have figured where the name comes from.
The name seems to have originated from a trade mark name used in 1923 in Japan for a knitting spool. A small tool that may have looking similar to these (opps, sorry, I’ve hit an image upload limit, and can only provide the link to the picture ):
We have learned the little string on the tip of our rods that we attach the fishing line to is called a Lillian. リリアン. Or sometimes リリアン糸, ririan ito, Translated as Lillian thread or Lillian yarn.
Or even sometimes a snake mouth. ヘビ口 ( Hebi kochi )
Here is an image illustrating the snake mouth ヘビ口 and Lillian リリアン.
Maybe technically different but often used interchangeably.
The knitting spool seems to have been around since medieval times. And is known by many different names in America and Europe. Names like: knitting doll, Knitting Dolly, Knitting Nancy, peg knitter, Bizzy Lizzy, tom-boy knitter and other names. The process is often called French Knitting. This website explains it fairly well.
How to use a knitting Nancy
( showing you how to create an icord with a knitting Nancy, )
As you can see an i-cord is a knitted tube that also has some stretch to it. I-cords were used as handles, and one website stated horse reins were made using a similar process.
With names in the west such as Doll, Dolly, and Nancy. It might not be surprising that they might also be called Lilly.
And that is what happened in Japan. The next couple of websites tell the story how in 1923 a craftsman in Kyoto copied a design used in America, and he sold the knitting spools using a trade mark of a Lilly Flower. I couldn’t find a copy of the original trade mark, but I found one used by the Lilly Capital Investment.
If you noticed what the top of spool looked like in the Knitting Nancy video, I think you could understand why the company in 1923 chose to use a Lilly flower as the trademark for his product. The top of the spool would somewhat resemble a sketch of a Lilly.
In Japanese the name for a Lilly flower and be written two ways.
ユリの花 (yuri no hana) or as リリー (rirī)
The i-cords made using the ユリの花の商標を [ Lilly Flower Trademark] knitting tool (編道具) Became know as Lilly Yarns.「リリー ・ヤーン」`Rirī yān’. . Eventually the two words were combined and shortened to Lillian,「リリアン」.
Yes, originally “Lily” and “Yarn” coalesced together,
Changes as “Ririyan” → “Lillian” It came to be called so by everyone.
“Lily” (`Rirī’ ) is Lily flowers (yori no hana ) in Japanese.
“Yarn” (`Yān’) means the sewing thread.
. . . The main body of the “Knitting machine” is named “Niching”.`「ニッチング」
I think you can see if an i-cord was made with small silk thread, rather than with large yarn, the i-cord could be very small in diameter. And a little stretchy too. Perfect for attachng onto the rod tip and for tying you fishing line onto.
That’s the story. Or my theory. If the knitting spool maker in 1923 had chosen a trademark different from the Lilly flower, we might today call the little cord on the tip of our rods by a different name.