I'm busy working on our NEW collection (launching soon!) working with weavers in Nepal. I thought it would be nice to give you a little background on this fascinating project.
My first view of Dhaka being woven.
In 2010, I was again invited by the Self Employed Womens Association (SEWA) to get involved in a project encouraging collaboration between western designers and local artisans. (My first project with them was in India, resulting in our first textile collection, as seen on our Product pages). SEWA has been given responsibility to facilitate the development of similar projects in the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) group of countries that surround India.
These projects aim to empower home-based workers to market their skills to an international audience. The most advanced of these projects was in Nepal, so in the Spring of 2010, I ventured to the spectacular city of Kathmandu. There I had the privilege to meet another group of talented women. And so began a new partnership with Stitch by Stitch.
I have been inspired by a number of traditional skills and items. For example, felted woollen Radi rugs which are often used to sleep on, and even wear as clothing, as well as being used in the home as a floor covering in rural villages.
A traditional weaving technique called Dhaka - the women memorise a plethora of geometric patterns which are then used to create colourful textile designs by inlaying different yarns by hand into a plain warp. And the giant Himalayan stinging nettle is the unlikely source of a wonderful fibre called Aloo, which we'll be using in some of our new textiles.
I'll be back with more tales of Nepal over the coming weeks, and show you the development of our new collection in more detail!