Early Spring Greetings!
If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere you’ll be heartened by the first signs of Spring, by the looks of all the photos I’ve seen recently, of daffodils and snowdrops making a great show of brightening up the lengthening days.
Here in Kerala the heat is notching up but a cool breeze picks up on the beach in the afternoons to help keep us as cool as possible. The coconuts are being harvested, rice paddies are newly planted inland and new leaves are appearing on the branches of trees as the old ones drop to the ground. A spring of sorts!
We’re so glad that we decided to run our South Indian Threads tour despite Indian Visa problems and lingering Covid concerns. Our lovely group of ladies loved the tour and gave us excellent testimonials that we’ll share on our website soon.
Our 20 day textile and cultural tour from Kochi to Bangalore via Tamil Nadu and North Kerala was packed with activities and workshops and some down time!
A huge thank you to all the artisans who welcomed us and shared their craft skills with us so generously! We are so happy that these collaborations can happen again now that we are all able to travel freely once again.
A massive thank you to our wonderful group of ladies for making it all possible. We are so grateful for your support and for the continuing friendship that we developed over the course of our marathon journey of 1470 km and many adventures!
By joining us in this grand adventure, you have helped to support all the artisans who we encountered and learnt from in our wonderful workshops, and whose products you bought directly from.
You have helped the local economy wherever we travelled by eating and drinking from and staying in Indian-owned hotels, cafes and restaurants. By buying locally, you have helped the local people in some way to get over the last three years of Covid misery. Thank you!
Another thank you to our amazing tour manager Shahbaz for his major part in the success of our tour. For his care for the well-being and safety of our group. Whether connecting them to local phone networks or stopping the traffic for them to cross the road, he was always at hand to sort out any minor glitches, and a mine of information on local life in India.
Our Amazing South Indian Threads Trip!
Every single day of the tour was another adventure into some aspect of Indian life and the lives of the artisans we visited.
In Kochi we took time to acclimatize after our groups journeys from Australia and the UK.
We lingered slowly and silently on the lagoons and small backwaters of Vaikom and enjoyed trying our arms at punting a snake boat:
We were introduced to handloom weaving nearby by Ramesh Menon. well-known fashion journalist and events organiser wlho now fronts @onezeroeight.stl, a fabulous clothing store in Fort Kochi. Part of Save the Loom, an organisation bringing new opportunities to handloom weavers nearby who lost everything in the floods of 2018.
We watched how the fishermen worked the Chinese fishing nets and ate wonderful food in the evenings at waterfront restaurants.
Natural Dyeing in Munnar
In Munnar we thoroughly enjoyed our two day natural dyeing workshop at Aranya Natural https://www.srishti-trust.org/aranya-natural. We explored wax resist block printing with indigo dyeing, tie dye with marigold and eco printing with eupatorium leaves and marigold petals.
We proudly took away our masterpieces with wonderful memories of our welcoming and generous hosts, the skilled and talented artisan team at Aranya who shared with us their in-depth knowledge of natural dyeing techniques.
Farm to Fabric
At Ethicus in Tamil Nadu we learnt all about the journey of cotton from farm to fabric. we visited the ginning mill there to see how raw cotton is cleaned before going to be carded and had a trip out to a rural weaving village to see outdoor sizing of cotton yarn after dyeing. We then visted artisan’s homes to see weaving on pit looms and an enormous warping wheel in its own special house. A fascinating day where we were welcomed to Ethicus and to the village so warmly.
Find out more about Ethicus here http://www.ethicus.in/
Halfway through our tour we shipped up at our favourite beach house, near Kannur in North Kerala for a well deserved rest. needless to say, there was a general consensus to stay there for ever!
Three days of relaxing on this stunning beach prepared us for our next journey over the mountains of the Western Ghats into Karnataka and to Mysore, historic city and one time princely state.
Our group were enthralled by the Mysore Devaraja Market market and enjoyed wandering the bustling streets. Mysore is a centre for silks, museums and palaces, sandalwood oil and incense and temples.
A day excursion to a sacred temple village, Melkote, saw us trying our hands at hand spinning on the box charkha, as used by Gandhi, at Janapada Seva Trust, https://janapadakhadi.com/also a Gandhian weaving centre. It’s not something that can be picked up in a morning but we enjoyed finding out the basics and attempting to make a thread that didn’t break in the time we had before exploring Melkote. and its stunning carved Hoysala architecture and painted village houses.
Bangalore Block Prints
Finally we reach our journey’s end in Bangalore and enjoy one last firework of a day at Tharangini, block printing studio, with the wonderful Padmini and her talented and skilled team of printers and colour experts, working with organic dyes, and non toxic colours.
We loved creating with some of the 4000 wood blocks that Tharangini has amassed over 70 years of their craft practice. Some demanded great concentration and skill to line up the pegs that mark the colour matching for two and three-piece blocks that have outline and infill blocks in different colours.
So lovely to be able to experiment with different techniques such as discharge printing, a form of resist printing where the cloth is dyed first, then a bleaching agent is used to print that only takes away the colour where the block is placed.
We came away with beautiful pieces to wear and make from and learned much about block printing from the masters who were helping us.
At Tharangini, there’s also a project ongoing to teach autistic adults and young adults to print with the blocks and to learn to create for themselves. To learn about the fabulous work going on at Tharangini follow this link https://www.tharanginistudio.com/
Exciting tours for 2024!
We’re now back at our base in Kerala busily planning our three tours for our next season. Now that the Indian eVisa is available once again, travelling to India is a simple process! If you have always wanted to visit India and you love textiles, let us share with you the laid back South of India with your safety and enjoyment as our main consideration.
In January next year we’re offering our Kerala Looms and Lores tour very much in the same format as advertised on our website for 2023. https://textiletravels.co.uk/tours/kerala-looms-and-lores-tour/
Our South Indian Threads tour will be shortened to 15 nights and end on the fabulous beach near Kannur in North Kerala. There’ll be a choice to extend your stay there independently or to continue with a guided 5 night extension to Mysore and Bangalore, like this year’s tour. https://textiletravels.co.uk/tours/south-indian-threads-tour/
This helps any guests who need to fly home for work or family or for those who want more of a rest after 14 days of journeying around Kerala!
All our small group tours are personally curated and led by us to give our guests the richest and widest experience of all that South India has to offer – including the culinary experience! We can’t wait to welcome our guests again in November, January and February!
We are finalising plans for our November tour at the moment so please f ollow us @textiletravells on Instagram and Facebook @Textile Travels, to keep updated on our latest news.
Our tours will be ready to view and for you to register your interest very soon on our website.
Thank you for your valuable time in reading this if you make it to the end! I hope you found it tempting enough to get in touch https://textiletravels.co.uk/contact/ and to plan your next holiday with us!
There will be special offers for Earlybird Bookings and for those who would like to share a room with a friend or another traveller wishing to reduce the holiday cost by sharing with a like-minded textile lover.
There is no reduction in price for single occupancy of a double room in India, and very few single rooms, therefore we have to apply a substantial single supplement to our prices to reflect this if you wish to occupy a double room as a solo traveller. Our single supplements are displayed alongside our prices. which we like to be quite transparent about.