Now there are pashminas and there are Pashminas…

We stock a lot of different scarves; all colours and shapes and sizes and in an array of different fabrics. It’s actually quite tricky to avoid mass produced though when we’re out buying so we were exceptionally happy when we discovered Hands & Looms who are a Fair Trading company with a wonderful story that we’d like to share because their silk & wool scarves, pashminas and kaftans are exquisite.

First though: You know when it’s hot – I mean really sticky and humid HOT and you’re doing your best not to drip from from your freshly blow-dried hair all over your sundress…One of those evenings when you really want to go out wafting elegance personified; not blundering like a sweaty blob. You see other women who somehow manage with the heat and humidity without breaking a bead and wonder where all the fairness went in the world as you mop yourself discretely. Well, chances are, they are either native to hotter climes and/or wearing natural fibres which let their wonderfully tanned skin breathe…

Not only do they look super cool, chances are they are feeling super cool too. Silk is one fabric which is utterly amazing and perfect for scarves & pashminas for exactly this reason – it allows your skin to breathe; drapes beautifully and is as light as well, silk.

I vaguely remember sitting in ‘Needlework’ lessons (as it was called then!) and Mrs Bryan explaining all about silk worms (which aren’t even worms but insect larvae that eat mulberries) and the effort it takes to produce this incredible fabric but confess to having forgotten most of it! I did remember it is actually the cocoons that are composed of silk and the moths inside are done for before they soak the cocoons and then unravel them to spin. China and India are the world’s two largest producers and consumers of silk; traditionally, Indian Wedding Saris are made from silk. If you want to refresh your memory on the whole wonderful process take a look at the wikipedia page.

So …back to Hands & Looms…

The story of Hands and Looms starts with Manicay Fairtrade. Founded in rural India in the late 1980’s, the journey of Manicay Fairtrade began with a small local community of hand-loomers, who found themselves struggling to sell their wares in their locality.

The company’s founder, known affectionately as ‘Kaka’, decided to take these wares to Delhi to sell. He did, and he completely sold out. Inspired by the success of these traditionally crafted fabrics, Kaka decided to learn the art of weaving. He set up his own local workshop, teaching as many members of the local community as he could. Given the company’s humble beginnings, the importance of fair trade and community welfare has always been the foundation of Manicay Fairtrade.

To skip forward to the present day, Manicay Fairtrade has over 8 workshops across India, Nepal and Tibet, and has successfully revived the Hand loom craft. Manicay Fairtrade proudly stands for fair trade and handmade products, with a firm belief that every single piece is a story presented by the artisan, that needs telling.

Made from 100% natural fibres and colours, these stunning fair trade scarves are available in striking colours; bold, indulgent hues so evocative of India.

The scarves are hand coloured and made on wooden hand-looms using traditional techniques. Manicay Fairtrade works directly with the local communities at Hands and Looms, providing the workshop space and materials for absolutely free, and ensuring that every individual is paid a fair wage. This means that every purchase of a scarf from Hands and Looms goes towards the skilled artisans who created it. This ensures that their story is still able to be told.

Not only do we have 100% silk scarves and gorgeous kaftans, we also have wool and linen options too. These scarves are often referred to as a ‘gazal’ or a woven poem as the sound the looms make as the artisans craft sound like they’re reciting a poem or gazal. Each comes with a gift tag and poem from the maker and is a reminder that each is unique and truly handmade.

So treat yourself and next time it’s stinking hot and you want to feel cool, reach for your silk and waft away!






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