This is the story of your Elephant Scarf
C: The Cotton for your Elephant Scarf was grown in Gujarat, India
The seeds from all the cotton are removed – this process is called ginning. The fluffy cotton balls are now processed and turned into slivers. The slivers are then taken to the co-operative to be spun into yarn.
1. Spinner’s story
Jasvantiben the Spinner
My name is Jasvantiben. Namaste!
I have been spinning yarns from cotton for many years. Right now I am spinning 25 counts or higher counts of yarn. I was one of the first to start spinning for this co-operative from my neighborhood. In my parent’s family we were spinning yarns as well so I knew a little bit. Then this co-op taught me more when I started with them.
In our families women are not encouraged to go out to work or even for other reasons. Our co-op insists that we go personally and pick up / deliver our lot at a designated day, every fortnight or a month. Then only we get paid. My neighbors, who also spin, we all go together. This has helped us become confident. Our families have also become more open about not following old traditions now!!
Jasvantiben works with two of her neighbours who have also been spinning cotton for Where Does It Come From? They are part of a community which does not encourage women to go out to work, so they can spin from their home and earn money to supplement their family income.
Three lady spinners!
5. The Weaver’s Story
My name is Kanubhai. Jay Mataji,
Kanubhai the Weaver
I am a weaver all my life and I come from weaver’s family! I am 72 years old. (It was unbelievable; he looks very fit and healthy!) I used to weave on my own but now I come to the co-op to help my daughter Monghiben!! It helps her and this keeps me busy. She is not here today so I am on my own here. We come here from a nearby village every day. Work is in my nature!! I work at my own will. I am not employed by anyone.
Weaving is all timework. A family of weavers is never free!! There are bobbins to fill, beems to roll, tie each end of the yarn, sizing the yarns and so on and on!! The mind is totally occupied. Arms, legs and the rest of the body are moving in a rhythm. At the end of the day the body aches but I have no diabetes, no blood pressure or other major illness. This kind of focused work with mind and body keeps me engaged. I am not sure it is yoga, prayer?! May be!
The cotton fabric is now ready for dyeing.
D – Design Development by MORALFIBRE
MORALFIBRE has been a production partner with Where Does It Come From? since the beginning! Together we have created many different ranges of clothes – from scarves to denim children’s garments.
In 2015 we worked together to create our first elephant print scarves which have been very popular – including with celebrities such as The wonderful Joanna Lumley who wore hers on her TV programme ‘Joanna Lumley’s India‘. So we decided to create some more!
We used the original design, but slightly changed the colours for a new version – opting for the more aqua colours of blue and green but keeping the pale blue background.
D- Dying the Fabric
Rafiqubhai the Dyer
I am Rafiqbhai. Kaise ho?!
I specialize in dying cotton fabrics. I am originally from Rajasthan and I have moved here for few years now. I work with my cousin Tahirbhai the printer. We come from chhipa community who have been traditionally known for the quality of our colours and print for genarations. I run my own small unit and we use the best possible dyes. “With my traditional knowledge and experience and learning new things, no one can beat me in color matching!”
Here are some of the scarf fabrics after dyeing.
7. Printer’s Story
I am Tahirbhai. Salaam Alaikum! We printed your elephant scarf.
I hail from five-generation block printer’s family from Rajasthan. May be more but we do not have more concrete evidence of our family history!! My whole extended family is in this craft.
Tahirbhai the block printer
About fifteen years ago I moved to Ahmedabad, Gujarat to expand our work and try my luck. Ahmedabad is also a large printing hub of India. I moved to my uncle’s printing workshop based here. I took some time to understand the different taste in print design, colours etc here. We used to work on export orders only while here there is a huge local market. Also the way of working: doing business was very different. After some time I started on my own.
My expertise is in hand block printing. For hand screen-printing orders, I work with another printing unit.
Last year we had to close our hand block-printing unit. The orders were slowing down. I was not sure whether to continue with hand block printing or to move to hand screen-printing?! Moralfibre got in touch with us just around that time and they were interested only in hand block printing!! With orders coming in from them, I opened my hand block-printing unit again. I have a collection of over 5000 blocks and I want to continue with this beautiful craft.
Block printing the elephants
Tahirbhai, the master printer works with seven artisans, five of them are seen here. From L to R Nanjibhai, Kasimbhai, Ganubhai, Rahemanbhai and Babubhai. they all live within walking distance to the printing unit. It is fascinating to know that all of them have been printers all their lives and most of their life they have worked together as a team. They have worked for many different maser printers but they themselves worked in the same team. They are paid certain minimum wage and additional amount when they print more. They lay out and print 1500 meters fabric in a day. Each printing table is 30 meters long they work in a team of two on six different tables, one table at a time. needless to say, their synergy is very unique. They do not need to talk much while working. They understand and respond to one another beautifully. They are like a family, probably more than a family and they also enjoy their tea breaks together. They do not generally do small orders like ours so it was a great experience working with them.
When the scarves are completed they are packed up by MORALFIBRE Fabrics, who oversee the printing process, and sent of to us at Where Does It Come From?
W – WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
Hi I’m Jo, the founder of Where Does It Come From? – the clothing business that brings you ethical and traceable clothes. Currently based in Ipswich, Suffolk (UK) we work closely with socially focussed production partners. Together we create and develop the designs and produce beautiful clothes that harness the skills of the local artisans. We work as ethically and sustainably as possible to create beautiful basics that you will want to wear again and again. We hope that finding out about how your clothes were made and the people who made them will make you love them just a little bit more…..
From idea to business launch took two years, with launch happening in June 2014. You can read more in our News & Blog section, including newspaper and radio coverage. It’s been wonderful to be acknowledged for our work – 2016 named us as runner up in the ‘Greenest Product’ category at the Suffolk Green Awards as well as being selected as a Green 100 business – the top 100 ethical businesses in East Anglia. More recently we were delighted and honoured when Joanna Lumley wore one of our scarves on her TV documentary ‘Joanna Lumley’s India’.
Thank you so much for buying from us – the more we sell the more difference we can make. We have lots of plans for new designs, new partners and new projects so stick with us and together we can change the world!
Jo and Sarah from Where Does It Come From?