We are starting an ongoing blog post to share with you the books, images and writings that have informed and inspired us in our business and passion for textiles.
Books on cotton and cotton cultivation, books on textiles, from their history, their weaving to their design, books on colours and dyes… whatever it may be that catches our interest and imagination, we’ll give it a mention and a short introduction. Should you have any book you’d like to recommend to us and our community then please either contact us or leave a comment below.
Let’s start with our first pick:
Title: A Frayed History - The Journey of Cotton in India
Authors: Meena Menon & Uzramma
Publisher: Oxford University Press
As a first recommendation we’ve chosen a book which was published very recently and has served as a real inspiration to us. We had the idea for our business when we found ourselves in Kutch, India. One day we visited a village called Bhujodi. The village is home to a lot of handloom weavers. The cotton they weave is the Kala cotton you will find in our shop. Kala as we’ve written about before is an old-world variety of cotton indigenous to India. There’s very little old-world cotton being grown in India these days and A Frayed History gives a very interesting and detailed account as to why that is the case. As you can guess colonisation played a big part in it. Cotton has brought a lot of misery upon the world not least in India. This book tells the story from when India was the largest exporter of the most exquisite cotton products, sought after the world over, to India now being the second largest exporter of raw cotton. This crop plays a huge part in Indian agriculture yet the individual farmers, communities and the environment are suffering. At times it is a grim read but it ends on a positive note with stories of people and organisations who are working hard to change the economics of cotton cultivation and processing in India. There are movements to decentralise cotton production with the aim for communities to retain more of the profits. Back to a little how it used to be; farmers sold their cotton to local spinning units who prepared yarn for the weavers in the region. Last but not least the book calls for the reintroduction of more old-world cotton, the cultivation of which is a lot more sustainable and less harmful to the environment. More money needs to be put into research of indigenous varieties of cotton and the promotion of them. Something we’d love to see. For the time being we’ll keep promoting our Kala cotton products; organic cotton grown, spun and hand-woven in Kutch. We can highly recommend the book if you’re interested in the history and economics of cotton growing and weaving in India.