The Kaithari Project
It was quite by accident that we started working with weavers from Kerala. My husband & I were at a riverside resort when the owner told us that there was a hand loom co-operative society close by. We decided to pay a visit and however cliched this sounds, there’s been no looking back.
Now, many hand loom societies & hundreds of metres of fabric later I feel a great satisfaction. I have no training in textile, weaving or design so all work is instinctive & necessarily collaborative. The loom is a work of art and weaving is magical to me . Every co-operative has a secretary, a dyeing mashu & a master weaver. All of us sit down & discuss yarn, dye, weave, warp, weft. Usually they talk and I nod wide eyed at the complexity.
A thriving co-op is a joy to watch – clickety clack of the looms, a mobile grocery store for the women weavers and a delicious wood fired lunch at the canteen. But it is the less bustling co-ops I want to work with. Maybe I hope to discover a long forgotten weave or sometimes you just want to champion the underdog. They are usually apprehensive to take on work different from their routine – a handful of weavers, many not so young, the secretary doesn’t want to ruffle too many feathers . It takes a lot of soothing, coaxing and encouragement from my side for them to take on our first order. It is the same everywhere. A couple of orders later they are excited, brimming with ideas.