The Comeback of Kala Cotton

Posted by Angie Brown on 1st Jul 2019

Weaving in India has traditionally been a man’s job, while women have always assisted by filling the bobbins and making the warp. So, on our recent trip to the Kachchh in Gujarat India, we were thrilled to meet some women weavers who are weaving Kala Cotton.

Kala Cotton is indigenous to India and one of the few “Old World” varieties that is still being cultivated on a large scale in India. Farmers in this area of Gujarat can grow mung beans or cotton. If there is less rain in a season, they elect to plant cotton. This cotton thrives on only the rain that falls in a season and it is very resistant to disease and pests, which makes it a sustainable crop.

At one time Kala Cotton was very popular in India. They made clothes and home textiles out of it. Kala Cotton is a strong, coarse, stretchable fiber that today is often used in denim. In recent years Kala Cotton has been able to ride the handmade wave back to popularity.

We met with an NGO that is coordinating and developing local weavers while at the same time building a market for the organic Kala Cotton lengths of woven fabric. Small scale weavers find it very difficult to navigate the market. Currently, most of what they produce is sold to customers in India.

This NGO is currently working with 56 weaving families in 13 different villages and SIX of the weavers are women. Yeah!

The NGO introduced us to Remish and Remila, a husband and wife team who work together weaving. They work six days a week, 10 hours a day in the workshop next to the home that they share with their three daughters. Their loom was given to them by the government.

We find the cotton soft and durable. We purchased a stack of kitchen towels that have been very popular in the shop.Click here and see the hand towels.