In April this year I flew to India to visit some of our newer makers. An absolute highlight was visiting Maheshwar in the state of Madhya Pradesh, in central India. The small town sits on the beautiful Narmada River. There is a fort that sits on a hill overlooking the river, it is stunning and the place hasn't left me - I can't wait to return.
The purpose for the journey, however, was to visit Women Weave. They are a charitable trust, non-profit and have excellent conditions for their weavers (they even set their own wages at an annual meeting!) They train women (and men) in weaving, run projects in tribal communities to utilise their regional weaving skills, and teach weavers to go and set up their own businesses.
I visited their main HQ, where the all female weavers create cotton khadi fabrics. They also hand spin, hand dye and use locally grown cotton - the fields all around Maheshwar grow cotton on the flood plains of the Narmada.
When I visited, I was lucky enough to see the makers weaving our Spring Summer designs - two designs of bright cotton. It was amazing to see something I'd designed back in Northcote come to life here in Maheshwar.
I asked to chat with one of the weavers who was on a loom with our design, and I spoke with Kavita.
How long have you been weaving for?
I've been weaving now for 10 years
How did you learn to weave?
I started with spinning, and then we had a lot of yarns left over and we needed to start weaving more, then we were given looms and started to weave. We were trained to weave here at Women Weave. Most people are trained at WW or at a government centre, close by.
What's your favourite part of being here?
I like working at WW because it is like my family. I don’t like it when I don’t come in!
How you got a family? How do you juggle family and work life?
I have two children, they are 16 and 13, and both still in school.
I like working here as I am flexible to go home when I need to - many women here work from 4-6 hours per day and fit it around family life.
What are your dreams for your children?
It's up to them what they want to do, I just want them to be happy.