What is Khadi?
Khadi is a term used for fabric that has been handwoven using yarns made by hand spinning natural fibres which is usually cotton or linen, but can also be silk or wool. Working with an array of different Khadi yarn requires a lot of experience, expertise and patience, which has been a tradition for the artisans of Bengal, India, who are renowned for weaving the finest count of hand-spun cotton yarn for a long time.
Unfortunately, such fine arts are on the verge of extinction, therefore companies such as Anuprerna have a continuous endeavour to revive such beautiful complex crafts.
Khadi can be woven with pre-dyed yarns or can be dyed after the fabric has been woven as a whole piece.
Cotton Khadi sold at A Kind Cloth is supplied by Anuprerna. They produce Khadi in various parts of India, depending upon its raw materials. While the silk variety comes from West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and North Eastern states, the cotton variety comes from Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Karnataka are known for the woollen variety. Anuprerna's Khadi is spun in West Bengal, Bihar & Tamil Nadu.
Long before the weaving can actually start, the yarns for setting up the loom is prepared. This phase starts from choosing the yarn and its quantity, goes through yarn dyeing, washing, winding and warping/drumming, and continues all the way to drafting and denting.
"Khadi fabric is approximately 3.24 times more energy-efficient than mill cloth"[1.]
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.
A process aimed at preparing the weaver's beam to be set up on the weaving loom. From the bobbins on the creel frame, the thread is wound onto a huge drum according to the length and width of the warp in a desired sequence. Then the warp threads altogether are transferred onto a weaver's beam by unwinding the drum.
Drafting and Denting
Each individual yarn of the warp is pulled through the heald eyes on the heald wire. Drafting is known as the selection of heald frames or harnesses for individual warp threads according to the design.
The warp thread is then pulled through the reed dent as required by the reed plan and this determines more accurately the width of the fabric and the ends per inch or cm. After the denting is complete, the warp ends are fastened to the cloth beam and the process of weaving can start, creating beautiful pieces of textiles.
Anuprerna work closely with nine artisan clusters spread across West Bengal. Different clusters are equipped with different weaving expertise needed for an array of handmade textiles ranging from thickest count to fine muslin Khadi.
Benefits of wearing Khadi Cotton
- Khadi can be worn in any weather - it's warm in the winters and cool in the summers.
- Khadi material is a body-friendly fabric that does not cause any allergies or irritations, unlike other synthetic fabrics.
- Khadi dyes and weaves are done by hand. Each Khadi pure product is different and has a very peculiar style and unique finish.
At Anuprerna, dyes used are Azo-free organic, or are natural.
- The loom used in making Khadi handspun cotton fabric combines the threads to allow maximum air to permeate, which is very soothing, especially in summers.
- Khadi products are highly durable and long-lasting
- Due to the nature of the craft where the charkha and looms can be easily set up in small spaces, it can provide employment and hence food to the rural population
- The making of Khadi is environmentally friendly as it does not rely on any electric unit manufacturing processes and thus has a low carbon footprint.
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.
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 Khadi clothes which would encourage the weavers to preserve this craft.
Text and information taken from: