Making of Khadi

Khadi (from the Hindi word khādar) is cloth that is hand woven from hand spun yarn – generally cotton, silk or wool. The yarn is spun on a charkha (spinning wheel) and woven on a handloom.

Making of Khadi
At TOAST we love to use khadi

At TOAST we love to use khadi. We love it for its supple hand feel, for the slight irregularities of the yarn and weave that speak the making of human hand. A mill made fabric might be of the very best quality but the exact, mechanised reproduction of every stitch can leave it a little flat and soulless. By contrast, khadi has life to it. Think of a circle drawn on a computer compared to one drawn by hand, pencil on paper. Khadi is the latter.

We like it, too, for its resonances of Gandhian virtue, Mahatma Gandhi having encouraged each Indian household to weave their own cloth both as an act of passive resistance in opposition to the British Empire’s monopolising of the cotton trade and as an aspect of his simultaneously practical and spiritual ideal of wholesome self sufficiency.

Khadi is usually woven in the villages

Khadi is usually woven in the villages. Women are the spinners and will spin the fibre into yarn either on a simple spindle or on a spinning wheel, fitting spinning sessions in between family or household work. Or a woman might even, if using a spindle, spin as she goes about her day, whether still or walking, whenever her hands are free. The weavers are typically men, loading and operating the rickety, clattering looms to produce the finished cloth.

It is very skilled work, slow and painstaking. The finer the thread, the finer the cloth, the higher the skill required. The legendary Dhaka muslin – used to clothe Mughal royalty – is woven from gossamer fine thread into the lightest, most pliable and coolest of cotton voiles. Perfect though it is, it still bears that ineffable, beautiful mark of the human hand – as, indeed, do thicker khadis, all the way up to the heavy canvas cart cloths one still sees covering the goods on ox-drawn carts.

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