HAND SPUN YARN & TRADITIONAL HANDLOOM
The hand spinning of the yarn is known as ‘Weft Winding’. This is traditionally done by the women of the family, and is a crucial part of the pre-loom process.
After spinning, the next step of hand weaving is all carried out on wooden frame looms that are between 2-3 metres in height and width. The first stage of the handloom process is ‘Warping’. Warping involves yarn or threads being spun onto a large wooden wheel, this is then rotated by hand to spin the threads into linear rows. The number of rows are calculated according to the desired number of threads and length of the material to be woven.
The weaving involves two sets of yarn being woven together. This is facilitated by the loom whose speed is controlled by the weavers hand movements. The process is exact and requires good concentration and skill. Each scarf takes over an hour to weave and each shawl around 3 hours. To finish, the end section of threads are all hand knotted to give the final piece; a beautiful scarf created entirely by hand.
ECO-FRIENDLY DYEING USING BOTANICAL DYES
At Saffron Handloom we believe in sustainable processes that are in harmony with the environment and organically produced. We use purely botanical plant and vegetable dyes that are non-toxic and non-environmentally polluting. These dyes are carefully sourced from within India and are extracted from the leaves, bark and roots of various plant sources. This brings the best and highest quality dyes to our products. Extracts include; Tesu dye that gives a warm ochre yellow, and Madder dye that gives an earthy red.
The process takes place inside small dye houses located in village homes. It involves initially boiling large cauldrons of water, into which a particular dye is added according to the desired shade of yarn needed. Yarn is then gently dipped into the infused water and soaked for between 2-3 hours, before being removed to dry so that the dye may set.
FAIRTRADE & ETHICAL PRACTICE
All of Saffron Handloom’s weavers are skilled artisans with generations of experience in handloom weaving. They have been selected from a small nucleus of villages within the Himalayan region. All the weavers are paid fair and equal wages (above the average) within the guidelines detailed by CraftMark India, an Indian fairtrade organisation of which the weavers are registered. The employment of women is especially encouraged, with an equal percentage of both men and women. Furthermore, production is according to the choice and ability of the weavers, meaning that only a certain amount of product is handcrafted each month. This, therefore ensures the product quality and standard remains high.
As the handloom weaving and dyeing processes require minimal (if any) electricity and no generators, the whole production is easily sustained. It doesn’t create environmental pollution or damage when compared to the highly ecologically damaging and toxic modern industrial forms of dyeing and weaving.
All of our raw materials are ethically sourced, with the sheep’s wool purchased from herds people in the Ladakhi Himalayas, cotton from Tamil Nadu, and ahimsa silk (a form of ethical silk in which the silkworm isn’t killed during harvesting) from Assam.