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Posted on Wednesday, November 27, 2013

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From Cocoon to Scarf

Villages reforested areas around their homes to provide enough trees for the silk worms.
Groups of women work together to spin the silk cocoons into thread.
Some of the silk is spun using traditional foot pedaled machines.
Others use the new electric machines that can spin several cocoons at once.
It is then sent to be dyed. © Jonah Kessel
Dying Silk Yarn
Silk Yarn Wet with Dye © Jonah Kessel
Threading Yarn onto Spools
The weavers use traditional wooden looms to craft the scarves.
Lastly, they are finished, ironed and ready for packaging. © Dana Szabo

Our beautiful silk scarves are made in remote villages in Bihar, India. Agriculture is the primary sector with few alternative income opportunities. An NGO came to these villages and wanted to help.  Silk rearing and weaving has been a craft in this region for countless generations and can bring additional income where it is greatly needed.

Grow

They reforested area around the villages to grow the silk worms. The wild silk worms eat copious amounts of mulberry leaves.

Spin

After the cocoons are dried, they are ready to spin. Traditional spinning machines are powered by a foot pedal. The newer machines run on electricity. They are much more efficient because they can spin several cocoons at once.

Dye

Once the yarn is spun, it is ready to be dyed. The dying process is simple. A large pot of water and dye is boiled over an open fire. The yarn is put into the pot, then removed, cooled and put back in for another round.

Weave

They use large wooden looms to weave the silk. In traditional Indian society men are the weavers. The trade is passed down from generation to generation.

Finishing

After the scarves are woven they go to the finishing center where they are fringed, touched up and ironed.

It is amazing that we in the U.S. can connect with a small village in India and support their economy and cultural craft through something as simple as a scarf. Witnessing the process makes me think about my other possessions.

How were they made? Who made them?

It helps me appreciate the time and energy it takes to create the things we depend on – and more glad when I can have access to fair trade products, so I know that producers’ needs are valued.

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