will the real KHADI please stand up

In India, there are 2 types of cotton growing: one called "Hill" cotton which is naturally organic & growing wild and then there is "punasa" a farmed variety made with generational seeds(not hybrid). A third variety known as "red" cotton grows naturally as the color comes to the bush from the soil's nutrients.
The cotton once picked is then passed on to the "spinners".  In cleaning the cotton(ginning process), the spinner uses a fine comb from the jaw of a river fish. Caught by specialized fisherfolk from over generations, it has been used to separate the raw difficult short staple cotton from it's seed. 
Then a second stage in this process requires the use of a small iron rod in a rolling motion on a block to further remove seeds.  This unique ginning process was invented way back before machines and electricity. 
These seeds are then distributed back to farmers for the next season's crop thereby avoiding the need for anything beyond the local variety and keeping the strain pure.
 Next is the slivering process and is done with a bow like instrument....
 to fluff cotton....
and to create rolls called slivers. These are hand made and kept in dried banana stems to use to procure the thread. (see below)
Spinning can now begin - into a fine yarn which can be up to 110 counts in white cottons and 63 counts in red. 
The original one wheel charka, Gandhi approved...
Creating the hank of cotton thread that will be used for the warp & weft, counting under breath so as to separate yarn into 1000 thread hanks.
cotton hank- top:70 counts/17grams,  bottom:100counts/10 grams
The "boat" containing the thread for the weft - the weaver sends this small wooden vessel between the layers of the warp, back and forth horizontally, then brings the loom arm forward to tighten the weave... thereby creating the KHADI fabric.
KHADI crafted in the traditional method: red(63ct), white(100ct) and natural bleached(100ct).  A Most beautiful textile that wears like linen but feels more soft with each wearing - coveted by Indians and designers as a pure fabric.

AtelierOM will use for limited edition special pieces as it is more costly and production is slow, limited and laborious.

the matrix: warp & weft

A village of handlooms - the people of west bengal earn their livelihood in processes of weaving fishing and farming.
In traditional India women are predominately the spinners of thread as it seems a natural work to manage household chores in between, but a growing number of women move to weaving as spinning is being taken over by the monopolizing low cost of the same from  the mills. This woman is at a pitloom created in her "mudhouse" just on the front porch.
in the matrix:
A series of weights is attached to the warp to keep it tight and from shifting so that the end textile produced is a fine unobstructed weave.

The warp is an established amount of threads adhered in the loom vertically to give the textile it's foundation(see above). The weft are the threads applied by the weaver horizontally, creatively in the process of weaving. Setting up a loom is an intricate process.(p.s. no electricity required)
The looms are quite large and often require a separate building from the house. Some villages build makeshift structures so that a couple of weavers may work together.
4 looms in a room(sounds like a children's book)
 Finishing the details of the weft in a saree still on the loom - the raised patch patterns are known as jamdani and are special to Bengal, their extra threads require cutting after weaving.
the product: newly woven sarees drying after starching, a natural starch that is used is made from the same flour as chapatis

constructing the GODDESS

Along the backroads that lead to the mighty Ganges river's exit into the Bay of Bengal, in the Sunderbans(the protected mangrove forests)there are many roads that lead to that same place and all along the roadside are unknown sculptors getting busy daily with Goddess Crafts - making use of local straw, clay/mud(their houses are also built from these materials) and that peaceful state of mind easily obtained out here to get it right.... name your Goddess!


well, that just about sums it all up!

for more info go to OMkhadi

rainbow ingredients of natural dyes

golden & lemon marigolds, separating annar
pomegranate skins for yellow
alizarine stick for red
moldy jute layers
boiling lots of betel leaves for grey
annato seeds make a vibrant red orange
(SUSHAMA, color guruji, on the right)
myrobolam dry skin +
kalakasis ferment for black!
soapnuts for safe & natural washing 
some hue samples on silk as overseen by Ms. SUSHAMA MISTRY, dye master of the Sunderbans Khadi Village Industry Association, West Bengal

KHADI - the Revolution will not be televised

 Spinning thread on a CHARKHA to create hanks of hand spun thread to then be woven into gorgeous khadi fabric on hand looms, this is the way Gandhi-ji intended it - one wheel, silently and gently producing a cloth with life.
 Below this is a newer version(many people are renovating this model and other processes of cotton from field to fabric) whereby the women can spin 5-7 times as much in one day thereby increasing their wages for the same amount of hours.This still can be done in the home but most often it is employed in local cooperatives. I think Gandhi would be satisfied with the pay increase but it is sounding and feeling more like a machine even though it is hand spun. This model of ring spun model developed by Shri Tripurari Saran(see our pic together below).

 a local cooperative as a part of Gram Nirman Mandal in Nawada District Bihar
weaving of Ahimsa(Peace) silk from Assam in Bihar
My fortunate visit with Shri Tripurari Saran,85, who renamed me Anjlee(which means offering in Hindi) and inducted me into the Indian Freedom Movement as an ambassador of consciousness.His title is Minister of Khadi Bihar and his affiliation is with the organization Gram Nirman Mandal set up throughout the SW regions of Bihar in 5 districts employing weavers & spinners, educating children laborers and children of laborers, maintaining leper hospitals even though the gov't declared it has been eradicated, NOT! and other social services for those working with in the cooperatives. They also provide science services for farmers on natural composting and bio fertilizers using NEEM and dung.
 Child laborers during exams in a classroom in the outer halls of the Sarvodaya Ashram. There are 50 students attending at each of the 5 centers. A few of these children are orphans and a few are dalits. Donations are accepted, a project is underway to provide each of these schools with a library through KITABKORNER.org Some of these students are excelling but their future is very uncertain as they live in one of many remote regions of India within a very poor state with a very corrupt history, thankfully now past tense.I have agreed to come back in 2012 and spend a week teaching english and art/design to these kids who sang songs to us on our visit even though they were amidst exams.