Pattie Graver, Handwoven managing editor and Roving Reporter maven, has a daugher who has lived in and imported textiles from India. Pattie recently sent a link to this beautiful video about the making of khadi, a coarse handspun and hand-woven cloth made in India. Khadi is made of cotton, silk, or wool spun on a charkha, a simple spinning wheel.
The khadi industry was founded by Mahatma Ghandi in the 1920s, as part of the Indian freedom movement. Under British Colonial rule, Indian cotton was shipped to England to be spun and woven in British mills. The traditional charkha was bulky and too expensive for the average Indian, so Ghandi held a contest to design an affordable, portable charkha. The resulting "book" charkha and the khadi cloth industry enabled Indians to spin, weave, and market their own cotton and eventually led to self-rule and economic independence. To the Indian people, khadi still symbolizes independence: to this day, most politicians in India are seen only in khadi clothing, and the flag of India is only legally allowed to be made from khadi cloth.