Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Don't Forget the Handloom

Having extolled the virtues of powerloom weaving in the last post, I thought I better say something ab0ut the wonders of traditional handloom weaving - just to ensure no-one feels left out. After all, handloom weaving is the principal craft of the K.V.Kuppam area and the quality of the cotton cloth brought back from K.V.Kuppam when the Bishopston-Kuppam link was first formed, was part of the initial impetus for founding the trading company.

Anyone who’s ever worn a Bishopston Trading blouse or shirt knows how breathable, soft and light the handloom cotton cloth is, but few people are aware just how versatile a material it is too. To illustrate this I thought I’d share with you a selection of other products made from the Fairtrade organic cotton cloth that is handwoven by our partners in the village.

1. The Wondercube

Having watched her baby daughter ethusiastically pulling wipes out of their packet, Helen Twigge-Molecey, designed this educational children's toy to be made from lightweight cotton cloth.

2. Fat Quarters - Quilting Packs
Colour co-ordinated packs of fabric, designed specially for avid quilters.

3. Zip-Safe Bags

Multi-purpose storage bags: cash, keys, medication, mobiles - all those small but essential things that have a habit of vanishing at the crucial moment.
4. Tartan Ties

In fact a whole range of cotton items all in classic Gordon Tartan and all from cloth woven in South India.

5. Student Fashion

Well this isn't much of a leap from the handloom cotton clothing I mentioned at the beginning of this post, except that these garments were designed and made by students at Filton College Bristol. It just shows what a versatile and useable fabric handloom cotton is, when it can be crafted into beautiful garments by students, professionals and hobbyists alike.

Finally, here's an image of the handloom cloth in production. At the weaver's feet are two pedals which she presses alternately to raise and lower consecutive warp threads. The cords attached to the top of the frame are pulled in time with the pedal-pushes, this sends the shuttle shooting back and forth between the warp threads, creating the weft. The weavers who produce the handloom cloth for Bishopston Trading Co and our partners are organised into Self-Help Groups, these operate like small co-operatives: they are democratically run and the profits are shared amongst the members.

For more information visit these pages of our website:

K.V.Kuppam and How our clothes are made


  1. I really like your blog. It would be interesting to know how the Bishopston-Kuppam link was first formed. Keep up the good work.

  2. Hi Mascapalabras

    Thanks for your comment, sorry its taken me a while to reply - how the link and then the trading company were formed is quite a big topic, but I'm hoping to get something up on this soon. In the meantime there is a good summary on Pam Morris' brilliant educational site about KVKuppam, http://www.kvkuppam.info/ select "A Special Friendship" from the menu on the left. Thanks again.