Wonder what can be more ethical & environment friendly than fabrics made with just natural fibre like cotton & silk. It's the Indian Khadi, which has been handspun & handwoven from the natural fibres, making the process of making the fabric also ethical & sustainable.
The tabletop or floor charkha is one of the oldest known forms of the spinning wheel. The wheel is turned by one hand, while the yarn is spun off the tip of the spindle with the other. The direction in which the yarn is spun is called twist. Handspun single plies are spun with a Z-twist, and plying is done with an S-twist. In this way, the opposite-direction plying keeps the spun yarn from untwisting itself. Weaving with handspun yarn produces the khadi material.
The handspun handwoven fabric has been a huge part of India and was a major part of the nation's economic strength before colonialism. Mahatma Gandhi began promoting the spinning of khadi for rural self-employment and self-reliance during the Swadeshi movement (Khadi movement).
However, today, the Khadi industry is far from flourishing. There is a significant decline in the number of India's handloom weavers due to a decrease in its demand. Anuprerna is working towards the goal of bridging the gap in demand by creating awareness about Indian Khadi clothes which would encourage the weavers to preserve this craft.
1. Khadi Cotton Fabric- This is a handspun cotton fabric which means it is made by hand weaving with handspun yarn procured from cotton.
Khadi yarn is commonly around a thicker 20 counts and is great for upholstery or homeware. For apparels, yarn is finer, with 60-80 counts being perfect for shirts and dresses that need some structure and crispness. Whereas an even finer variety of 100 and 120 counts or even higher are suitable for summer wears like dresses and tunics.
The 500 or 1000 count Khadi is a variety that was once renowned as the Finest Khadi and was of very superior quality. Today, it is very rare to find. It is very difficult to spin and weave due to how delicate and fine the yarns. It requires the right temperature, humidity and a very skilled weaver to be produced.
2. Khadi Silk Fabric- This fabric has two subtypes:
The first is pure Khadi silk which means the fabric is woven from completely silk yarn like our pure mulberry silk. It is known to be one of the finest as well as the most popular variety of silk. To learn more about Mulberry Silk, visit the craft page here.
The second type includes the blending of several yarns. Khadi Silk with a mixture of other yarns produces varieties like- Matka Khadi Silk, Tussar Khadi Silk. & Ketya Khadi Silk. The details for each of these crafts can be found on our website through the links here- Matka Peace Silk, Ketya Peace Silk, Tussar Silk.
Weaving Khadi fabric is challenging due to certain properties characteristic of handspun yarn. Since the yarn is irregular in thickness, dyeing is inconsistent. Khadi is also prone to shrinking after wash. It also tends to be expensive compared to mill spun & power loom woven fabric due to the competition in the market from the latter.
However, the benefits of Khadi definitely outweigh the challenges of it's production. With experienced weavers, it is possible to produce more uniform yarns. Anuprerna has been working with Khadi weavers across various clusters in Bengal for over 30+ years and have been producing finer Khadi fabrics.
With the increasing awareness and appreciation for Khadi hand woven textiles, more and more designers are incorporating the fabric in their design. There is a potential for an increase in demand for the finer variety of Khadi as well. We can now see them draped in a plethora of silhouettes, both western and ethnic.
Khadi has found its use in several categories and is already being used to make apparel, accessories and upholstery.