Tag Archives: India

The women weavers of Panchachul


Hand knitted shawls made from the fibre of the giant Himalayan nettle.

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Nettle shawl

In the Himalayas of northern India, on the border between Tibet and Nepal, is Kumaon, one of the most beautiful and untouched areas of India. From there you can see the five snow-covered peaks of the Panchachuli mountain range. Panchachuli means “the five brothers” and is one of the highest mountain ranges in India. At the foot of the Panchachuli range is a cooperative of village women who use their traditional skills to produce beautiful products from high-quality raw materials.
Panchachuli Women Weavers is a development program, which facilitates economic and social independence for women in the Indian Himalayas using the traditional arts of weaving and knitting. The project has given the women an alternative way of earning their living and has contributed significantly to the structural development of the Kumaon region.

Over 800 women from a total of 32 villages in the region are involved in the processing of raw materials and the production of high-quality woven and knitted products. The women are all shareholders in the cooperative as well as receiving regular wages.
A specialty of the Panchachuli women weavers is the treatment and processing of the giant nettles which grow in the Himalayan plateaus. The plant grows in large quantities in the region each year and is collected by the women in spring in the woods and fields using sustainable harvesting practices.  The nettle, known locally as allo, boasts the longest fibres in the plant kingdom producing exceptionally strong, hard-wearing but soft products. The processing of the nettle bark into yarn is a complicated process: the fibres are boiled, beaten to a pulp, bleached with chalk and then soaked. Then they have to be washed before they can be further processed to make the fine thread which is then knitted into these beautiful shawls.

Harvesting nettle bark

Read more about nettle fibre here >>>

Reincarnated textiles

We are happy to announce that our gorgeous bags made from recycled tribal textiles have finally arrived!

If you remember the 70s with a fondness for cheesecloth and embroidery, are an aging hippy, a nouveau hippy or just appreciate authentic tribal textiles: this is the real deal!

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The ladies of western Gujarat, India, have a long tradition of embellishing their clothes with fine stitchery and mirror work. After the costume is no longer usable, the textiles are still highly valued as they have taken years to create, so they are recycled into new creations like these great little bags we have in store.

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The richness of these bags in the incredible detail, Continue reading

What is PASHMINA?

What is PASHMINA?

Pashmina fibre was originally designed to keep baby cashmere goats warm in the Himalayas.

Pashmina goat

Pashmina goat

The Changthangi or Pashmina goat is a breed of goat from Tibet or neighbouring areas in the Ladakhi Changthang, usually raised for meat or cashmere wool – known as pashmina once woven.

These goats grow a thick, warm fleece. They survive on grass in Ladakh, where temperatures plunge to as low as −20 °C . These goats provide the wool for Kashmir’s famous Pashmina shawls.

Note: the word ‘pashmina’ has been purloined by some manufacturers to describe any long scarf or shawl in any fibre including synthetics.  This can be very confusing to buyers. True pashmina is the fibre from the young Changthangi or Pashmina goat.

Pashmina Care:
Wash your precious pashmina product the same way you would your own hair: a gentle handwash in warm water and shampoo.  To dry, squeeze dry inside a towel and dry flat in shade.

Hand spun, hand woven pashmina & eri silk shawl

Hand spun, hand woven pashmina & eri silk shawl

SHOP FOR PASHMINA at KASU EMPORIUM >>>>
 

Bagru

village-street1_thumb.jpgRajasthan in western India is well known for many things, block printed fabrics being one of them. In my research for fair trade goods, I had found a small organisation in Bagru village outside Jaipur, where the artisans are paid very well, are shareholders and receive annual dividends.  I made contact with them before I left Australia and was very eager to meet the block carvers, dyers and printers at work. Bagru is known for natural dyes and hand block printing and the Chippa community there has been block printing for 350 years, developing a unique process of printing with natural vegetable dyes. Getting to Bagru village was a bit of a drama, but so worth it in the end. I had made enquiries about local buses that would take me there from Jaipur, but I had managed to get to the wrong bus stop and wasted some time for a bus that would never come. Continue reading

DHOKRA BRONZES

Antique lock in the shape of Hanuman

Antique lock in the shape of Hanuman

We have found some great tribal lost wax bronze castings made in the thousands of years old traditional way – some are recently made and some we purchased from a private collection of antiques.
Known as Dhokra, this is an ancient craft that scholars believe to be at least 4500 years old. Artisans in the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal are still using this method to create jewelry, vessels, images of gods, goddesses, animals and birds and works from the imagination. Many are farmers who supplement their income in the summer months when the beeswax used to create the fine detail is supple and easy to work.

Using a coarse clay the artisan first makes a core vaguely resembling the end product. The clay core is hardened either by drying in the sun or Continue reading

Himalayan warmth

Winter has arrived in the southern hemisphere and we have some gorgeous warmth generating devices from one of the coldest places on the planet.

Pashmina goat

Pashmina goat

It gets so cold in the Himalayas that even the goats have developed clever ways of keeping warm. The Changthangi or pashmina goats have developed exceptionally warm and light fiber that not only insulates them from the sub-zero temperatures, but also makes some of the softest, warmest textiles you would ever want next to your skin.
All these winter warmers are made from hand-spun fibre which has been dyed from natural sources* and hand-woven into the most beautiful cloth.

We travelled to the home of these products to personally select Continue reading

Home again!

I’m home!
After six months in India, I have arrived home with lots of stories and lots of stock for KASU EMPORIUM.

parcel1Parcels filled with goodies are starting to arrive from India, and unpacking them fills me with memories of the places I have been and the people I’ve met in the search for this lovely stock.  I will be telling some of those stories soon, so stay tuned.

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Note the calico wrapping sealed with red wax – official India Post wrapping.

Pumpkin is staying close by after a long separation!

Winter classics

New stock has arrived at KASU EMPORIUM!

Winter Classics: Pashmina & wool scarves from Kashmir

S_125_detail.jpgClassics never go out of style: that’s why they are called classics.
Consider beige. It’s always been there, but not always in a good way.  Continue reading

A rainy night in Chennai

rainy nightA rainy night in Chennai and we’re looking for a slum. There is a fair trade organisation I had heard about which employs women making great looking products from recycled materials. I had made contact with the manager, Mr P some months earlier and he had sent me images of the products and I was determined to find the place. Continue reading

Up a mountain

The long flight from Australia arrived in Delhi mid-morning local time. After transferring to the domestic terminal and a short but sleepy wait, it was time to board a Spicejet flight to Dehradun in the foothills of the Himalayas in India’s newest state, Uttarakhand.

I had now been awake for nearly 30 hours and harboring a viral intruder. The bed was the typically Indian and hard as a board, yet strangely comfortable to my exhausted body. The virus was developing nicely, and the night was a series of fitful wakes and sleeps.

Hand spun and naturally dyed wool ready to be woven into shawls

Feeling a little better by morning, I made plans to visit the weaving co-op that was my main reason for coming to Dehradun to buy stock for KASU EMPORIUM. Continue reading