John Forbes-Watson was sent out by the new textile industry of Lancashire to find out why Indians still preferred their own to the English cloth, and what were the processes that made even fine Indian muslin durable, unlike the English. After discussing fibre diameter, length, and the number of filaments and twist in English & Indian yarns he says [p 63] "... it being well known that for wear these very fine machine made muslins of Europe are practically useless, whereas the very finest of the hand-made ones from India are proverbially lasting, and bear frequent washing, which the finest English or European muslins do not." [ The Textile Manufactures and the Costumes of the People of India, 1866].
In my personal experience the fine Khadi made from desi cotton, Gossypium arboreum or Kondapatthi as it is known in Andhra, is amazing in its softness and durability. The malkha process aspires to retain these qualities in its cloth, though we have not yet used traditional varieties of cotton.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Many of the visitors to the Bazar were attracted by the look, feel and drape of malkha, and several asked 'Is it khadi?'. We explained that malkha was not handspun, but that its special quality was due to the gentle pre-spinning process unique to malkha. Customers asked if we had a retail outlet in Bangalore, to which we had to say a regretful no. Some people who seemed to like it found malkha 'too pricey', as a comment in our visitors' book says. Of course, compared to powerloom cloth, malkha is much more expensive, but we're confident that it will wear and look much better too.
Monday, August 17, 2009
We came back today, tired but happy, after 10 days of Dastkar's Nature Bazar in Bangalore. This was the first one they had held in Palace grounds, and attracted a wider customer base than the Chitra Kala Parishad, which is a better known location. In spite of spells of rain, some heavy, and several afternoons of burning sun - the bazar was outdoors - our stall did well - see attached video. This was our first exposure to Bangalore and, judging from the response, malkha will be popular there... more about the Bazar later
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Malkha production is at present around 1500 metres a month, though we expect it to go up to 2000 very shortly. Customer demand is currently ahead of production, and orders are booked for 4 months' supply. The deep indigo is the most popular, followed by the natural unbleached kora, and the indigo fine stripes. So far we have not taken orders for any of the other natural dyed fabrics, though they sell well at the Bazaars. Surprisingly, the pale yellow of harda weft with unbleached warp is one of the most popular colours. Because it is yarn dyed, malkha can be woven with different colours in warp and weft, adding interest to the colour.
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