Saturday, 6 April 2013

Works in Progress

Stitching and dyeing are both underway. Stretched on my Mum's old freestanding needlework frame is an indigo piece I wrapped and dyed in Kutch. I am adding stitches to it little by little (slow work because my fingers are full of hacks due to chilly weather).

Yesterday was my long-awaited first dyeing day at home. Cotton perle, boucle silk yarn, various weights of wool yarn and some linen and khadi cotton fabrics all took their turn in the dyepot, followed by khadi and other handmade papers. I ran out of space to hang everything up but I'll fix that for next time. I was in blue heaven!

Friday, 8 March 2013


That's my state of mind as well as temperature! Very happy to be home because I have brought so much colour and sunshine back with me. Lots of good memories and images from the last month and a substantial chunk of work underway too. 
March too is a busy month, with workshops and visits and presentations about the residency, but I am itching to carry on exploring with indigo.

Swati and Murji are already hard at work at Heriot Watt, and Swati is planning to interview several weavers in the Borders as she gathers stories from both sides of the world.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Just to say...

...I am heading back to Scotland at the weekend and look forward to being able to post images from the last month's explorations and experiments. Wifi here has been of the 'lite' variety lately when I have succeeded in getting online at all. It just about copes with emails but uploading images is too much to hope for.
So I'm sad to be leaving this rich seam of textiles behind but I have lots of great experiences to look back on, and a thousand ideas to take forward. I am definitely planning to share my knowledge and images with like minded souls so let me know if you would be interested in having me speak to your group and show them the treasures I have gathered. :)

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Indigo and White

Picture-free post, I'm afraid, but just to say that I am busy at Kala Raksha, knitting the rest of my hand dyed indigo yarns, drawing decorative 'bits' for the map, and reading textile books. An excursion tomorrow means we should catch up with Murji at home and have another chance to drool over his handwoven shawls. We also plan to visit a seller of antique and vintage Kutchi embroidered pieces. The pace here is exceedingly sloooooow which is still proving difficult for this Westerner to adjust to!

PS Have just amended setings (again) so if you want to comment it should work now.

Saturday, 16 February 2013


My indigo dyed wool/cotton handspun, and some samples straight off the loom.

Off to Kala Raksha in the morning, travelling down with Anuja who will be teaching there this month. Looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and meeting lots of new ones as I start work on a map of textile artisans who have studied at Kala Raksha and work in Kutch.... Lucky me!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Last Day at Khamir

I've been weaving most of the morning and am almost finished my mini sample blanket using Kala cotton warp and weft plus my handspun and dyed wool/cotton mix. Meanwhile the pieces I stitched yesterday to create shibori have gone off to be dyed with the block printed ones and I will get them back somehow next week. 

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Quick update

Yesterday I was at Ajrakhpur with block printer Juned, and Ghatit and Meera from Khamir. Just so you are clear! Having stretched out the fabrics on the print table, Juned marked up my simple design on the fabrics and his brother quickly applied resist paste using the blocks I had chosen.

They look odd here, a yellow fabric with brown paste. The yellow is because the fabric was first boiled in a solution containing myrobalan, a natural mordant. The resist paste is a mixture of natural ingredients too. Once the alchemy of indigo dyeing has taken place, the resist will be removed and I should have lovely rich dark fabrics with the design in white (or more realistically pale blue, as the indigo will tint it slightly).

I have also done some shibori on two other pieces and they will all be dyed together. I have high hopes of the resultant set of designs, which I plan to stitch into once back home.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Challenging Times

Well, at least in terms of getting online long enough to post anything here!
It's a week since we landed in Ahmedabad and fell into our hotel beds for a few hours to catch up on some sleep. This time the city seemed a bit calmer; maybe festival fever has abated for a while. And certainly much cooler which is a blessing for a fair skinned Scot.
We spent our first days getting money and SIM cards sorted so that we could communicate with contacts here, as well as taking in different museums and visiting the dangerously addictive Gamthiwala in the market, Manek Chowk. Inside is a treasure trove of block prints in every hue - making a sensible selection when you really want every single one a challenge... Might have to go back on my last day.
On Friday night we went to Darpana Performing Arts Centre to an amazing dance performance.

We had a long long train journey west across the state to Bhuj on Saturday and then went our separate ways. Jeni is down in the south of Kutch at Kala Raksha, while I am staying at Khamir this week. Yesterday we had lots of discussions about what I want to do and how we are to achieve it. Ghatit takes his duties very seriously and is most anxious that everyone knows the plan. This meant four different languages at one stage - Hindi, Gujarati, Kutchi and English! I met Juned Abdul Khatri, a young award winning block printer in neighbouring Ajrakhpur and he is taking forward my odd block print + resist paste + indigo dyeing requests very calmly.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Counted Down

There are only about twenty four hours left until Jeni and I fly back out to Ahmedabad. 
This time I will have in my luggage the cotton/merino yarn I have spun, khadi paper and thread to stitch onto it with, a sketchbook to fill with ideas and research as I go along and another to draw a map on when I get to Kala Raksha. 

After just a few days in the city, we will be taking the train to Bhuj in Kutch where Jeni will head off to work at Kala Raksha and I'll be going to work at Khamir.
When I get an internet connection I'll be posting pictures here again.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Kala Cotton

Lovely raw Kala cotton arrived from Khamir this week for me. My plan is to blend it with merino and spin yarns from it. These I will take out to Kutch next month where we will dye them and I will weave them with undyed cotton to produce a range of ideas for artisans to incorporate into new textiles. That's the theory so I hope it works out!

It is still very full of debris from the cotton plants, as you can see from the close-up below.

So I carded my first batch a few times last night to remove as much as I could before blending it with white merino in a 60%wool 40% cotton mix. Here's the first 100gm ready for spinning.