Khadi carries a story so rich, that the more I learn about this material the deeper its message of inspiration weaves itself in the fabric of my own being.
Khadi is not just a textile, it is a movement; a philosophy with a rich history, and a solution for a sustainable future. A work of human hands and a symbol of freedom and equality.
Khadi: A people's art
Khadi is a eco-friendly textile made from hand-spun and hand-woven cotton by artisans from rural Indian communities. The Khadi fabric we use for making our babycarriers, is made from naturally dyed organic rain-fed cotton from small scale farmers, which we source though Tula, a beautiful organisation who help make this world a better place.
The processes behind Khadi take time, skill, and tradition which is passed down through generations.
What makes Khadi special is that the material, from the yarn to the weave, is made without the use of machines. Work that can be done from rural homes without the need for electricity.
Khadi provides direly needed income to people in marginalised communities, and leaves no carbon footprint.
Cotton balls are handpicked from the fields and then cleaned with a fine comb to separate the fibre from the seeds in preparation for spinning.
The spinning of the cotton yarn is carried out on a traditional wooden frame called Charkha.
The spinster spins the fibers on the wheel of the Charkha, where they are thinned out and twisted to make a strong yarn.
Hand spinning uses no electricity and is much less abrasive to the fibre than machine spinning is - making for a stronger yet softer yarn.
The yarn is dyed with natural pigments sourced from various plants, vegetables, minerals, bark, fruits, leaves, flowers, roots and stems. After drying in the sun the colourful yarn is wound onto reels and carried to the artisans' home to be woven into beautiful fabrics.
Weaving Khadi fabric requires great skill and a practiced hand. First, several rows of yarn are stretched out through the length of a house. Then a handloom is used to weave the yarn into fabric without the use of electricity.
The loom is operated by hand- or foot pedals to lift and interlace two sets of yarn. With rhythmic and perfectly synchronised motions the artisan weaves her fabric.
Each artisan has her own touch and creates her own texture and feel.
All these processes take a great amount of time and skill - one meter of Khadi fabric taking about 2,5 hours of handwork. But all that work results in an exceptional, fascinating product.
Looking closely at this intricate fabric you can sense the story of how this piece came to be. All these people working together, all the houses it has passed through. The gentle differences in colour and texture of the fibre cannot help but make you wonder.
A soft variation in shade of cotton makes me curious about a change in weather or difference of soil. I imagine the spinster repositioning her body, making for a slight variation in the thickness of the thread. In my mind's eye I see children running around her, as she tries to keep her focus on the precision of her work. I let my finger follow the lines of the delicate pattern of the weave. Noticing the changes in the weaver's mood and speed. Gentle lines that must mark the breaks between work. It is captivating.
This is the work of people; perfectly imperfect.
The history of khadi
a Fabric of freedom and equality
"Learning about the rich history of Khadi has left me deeply inspired and honoured to get to work with such a material. I’d love to share with you what I have learned thus far."
The art of Khadi is an ancient practice, it has been around for thousands of years. About 100 years ago, when India was fighting for independence, the craft became an important symbol of revolution and resistance by the Swadeshi Movement led by Mahatma Gandhi.
In the 1700’s, the British colonisers banned all cotton fabrics and production in India in an attempt to dominate the cotton industry. As a result, millions of spinners and weavers were left unemployed, deprived of their only means to earn their livelihood.
It was in the 1920’s that Mahatma Gandhi started the Khadi movement in an attempt to empower the poor masses in India. He believed Khadi to be a solution to rural India’s struggle for financial independence. Gandhi fought for self-reliance of village economies stating: “It takes a village to make Khadi.”
Aside from the benefit Khadi could bring to poor individuals Gandhi believed in a greater social value of Khadi.
He hoped it could bring the beautifully diverse but divided people of India together.
In an attempt to bridge the gap between the masses he asked not only those in need, but every person to spin at least one hour a day as an offering to their country and as duty towards the poor. He hoped the common occupation of hand-spinning would create unity between all classes whilst showing them the dignity of hand-labour in a country where this was looked down upon.
“The message of the spinning-wheel is much wider than its circumference. Its message is one of simplicity, service of mankind, living so as not to hurt others, creating an indissoluble bond between the rich and the poor, capital and labour, the prince and the peasant.”
Since the pre-independence era Khadi has grown into a symbol of revolution and resistance. People of all levels of society wear garments made from Khadi fabric. Wearing Khadi demonstrates the people’s solidarity in their struggle for freedom and self-reliance.
We are proud
to work with Khadi
to work with Khadi
We choose to work with Khadi made from organic rain-fed cotton, because we believe it to be the most environmentally friendly and socially empowering fabric on the planet today.
Khadi is a work of human hands, from the field to the artisan, creating a sustainable economy throughout villages across rural India. It's an incredibly valuable resource of history, skill and tradition that we believe is a solution for a more sustainable future.