Saturday, 27 October 2012

A few of my favourite things!

 A textile selection to share with you - all returned to Scotland squashed in my luggage...
The tiny stitching on the bags above is Paako and Mutawa work, while the one below is Jat work. It's like a cross stitch but done in a faster way and used to produce very dense patterning.
 These fabrics are all khadi cottons, handwoven. If you click on the image you'll hopefully see how lovely and subtle the stripes are
 And these are just the tiniest sample of the simplest block prints. My own colour preferences are all too evident here but, as you can imagine, every colour is available. These are chemical shades but there are a myriad subtle natural dyed ones too.
 Jeni has been putting some great images up on this blog so you can get more of an idea of the sheer exuberance of Rabari embroidery, as well as watching a video clip of dancing at the Navratri Festival last week.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

eternal summer to long winter

Back home in the foggy damp Scottish Borders, I'm reliving my adventures as I unpack the treasures I acquired over the month. I'm transported back to the khadi shop where I snapped up so many different subtly striped cottons, and to the market stalls where I succumbed to a bit of bling. Then there's the vintage toran richly embroidered with elephants which will be hung up shortly. I'll take some pics of the textiles and post them soon. 

A great buy was Judy Frater's book 'Threads of Identity' which I was delighted to have signed by her when I was at Kala Raksha.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Last Post....

 Unless I am really bored in Dubai airport en route, I'll be home by the time I post again here. It has been a wonderful experience and I have learned a little about a huge variety of subjects, from textile techniques to laundry costs, squirrels to geckos, rice dishes to rickshaw driving! 
 My homeward luggage is probably double the weight of the outward trip, and that's not including the stuff that's being sent back... 
I'll leave you for the moment with these kite images and a close-up of Dayabhai's extra weft detailing on a blanket.


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Kutch and Kites

Kutch was full of great experiences and the opportunity to work directly with skilled artisans on their own territory. So we sat on people's doorsteps to stitch, or under the shade on a rug, or in an open air dyeing workshop. The weather is a huge advantage for all the arts involving water as you can dry fabrics and yarns quickly in the hot sun between processes. 

Back in Ahmedabad, we visited the Kite Museum yesterday, established in 1986. Ahmedabad has a famous annual kite festival in January where people take to the rooftops to pit their kites against each other. It's a fight to the 'death' as the strings are coated with ground glass paste!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Back from Kutch!

The wanderers have returned from the west of the state to the heat of the city. Ahmedabad is launching into nine days of festivity for Navratri and will get progressively busier and noisier as our final week here slips away. And it's a loud city already with every vehicle from scooter to bus enthusiastically peeping horns, roadside music machines blaring at seemingly random times and a sea of people and animals moving every which way at once.
All this after the rural calm of Kutch. It's an area of great contrasts in landscape and habitation and home to many different tribes and communities over thousands of years. Still hot, of course, but where we stayed for the majority of our time there was a welcome little breeze reaching us a few miles from the sea.

Blogger and iPad are not on good terms today and I cannot edit this post, only add to it. So the bottom two images are Jeni being shown how to wear a particular stitched bag, and one of the girls who were studying at Kala Raksha while we were there. Jeni showed them how to knit and it was a great hit. The girls are Suf embroiderers. Suf work is done from the reverse of the fabric in a satin stitch over counted warp and weft threads. They are accustomed to thinking work out as they do it, retaining numbers and shapes in their minds, so knitting came easily to most of them last week.
Rabari stitchwork
Mungiben patiently helping me with a seemingly easy form of chain stitch, miniature scale.

These are random images. I'll put more up when I can but wi-fi is a bit hit and miss at the moment.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Paper and Rioting

Never a dull moment in this city, and a several new experiences a day! Today's were very varied and started with a visit to the doctor's for Jeni who's been poorly for a while, then we were off at last to Kalam Khush paperworks. Sadly for the blog pics, we chose a day when grey and blue papers were much in evidence so not perhaps the brightest of images. The paper itself, thounada as pleasing qualities and we both acquired a stash of it. Transportation will be interesting...

Other tasks today included trying to secure 3G access for my iPad and Jeni's tablet. We failed. So no blog posts for ten days or so till we return to Ahmedabad. We stopped for some lunch and I had scrumptious pancake type rolls filled with spiced greens and paneer. Must find a recipe. Johnny had a baked rice and lentil type dish which I tasted and it was pretty fine too. Definitely fancy trying to recreate some of these dishes when I'm home. 

There was the recurrent drama of muslim rioting today in the city over the recent US film, so we were all hustled out of one shop so it could lock its doors, and the market stalls that Johnny took me to to find Tarty things were also shutting up shop and heading out of the way. 
So tonight we are staying home and packing for tomorrow's early start and long drive to the west. Ten days of embroidery and block printing, tie dye, weaving and dyeing await us!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


Some of my fellow creatures in the city. 
The little Indian palm squirrels are everywhere, even in the pol where are staying, despite any obvious sources of food for them. They are considered sacred though because of their association with Rama. There's a legend to explain the stripes on their backs. During the construction of the Adi Sethu (bridge) at Ramaswaram by Lord Rama a little squirrel also contributed by rolling in the beach sand then running to the end of the bridge to shake the sand from its back. Lord Rama, pleased by the creature's dedication, stroked the squirrels back, leaving the three stripes with his fingers. 
So now you know!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Quick update

Monday was a good day. Not without its frustrations, of course, but I am getting used to that. But as a good friend had advised me, these become part of the whole experience and you should just live them and enjoy the moment. So I did. None of the rickshaw drivers I used could find any of the places I was looking for at first but we always got there in the end. And I was looked after and told how marvellous such and such a thing would be for me, and shown lovely fabrics and other textiles. Nothing to complain about there.

Today too I had the pleasure of meeting Anupriya, an NID post grad student with a passion for paper. She told me more about khadi paper and the Kalam Khush paper works which I am visiting today.
If Blogger permits, I'll post some images of it tonight.