Now that the temperature has dropped to freezing at night, one might think my scarf pick this month would be made of a warm, luxury fiber such as alpaca or cashmere. Granted those are lovely indeed. But this past week, my dreaming has turned to the warmth of India where we had the good fortune of visiting last year. It was there I noticed men wearing these wondrously simple, soft cotton scarves wrapped multiple times around their necks. It got me thinking….
What type of scarf is perfect for a man? Does the weave and fiber take precedence? Or is it the size that matters—one that wraps neatly just once around the neck and tucks inside an overcoat or jacket? And what about the finishing—fringe cut short or none at all? I do pay attention to what men look at and try on at the ClothRoads trunk shows. Certain cotton scarves seem to have an appeal to them, especially the handwoven ones from WomenWeave in India.
Last year I introduced you to WomenWeave. One of their projects kicked off in 2010 is called KhatKhata, named after the sound the loom makes as the weaver changes sheds and beats the cloth. This project is from the traditional handweaving area in Dindori, located in central India. Since handweaving here was on the wane, WomenWeave stepped in to assist them with new skills, product development in khadi, and marketing.
The weaving in Dindori is very reflective of the life there, simple and basic, yet inspired by natural beauty. There is no electricity, running water, or real road to the village. Almost everything the villagers require they make themselves. Their homes have little space inside and not much light, requiring all weaving and its preparation to take place outdoors in the intense sunlight.
My Scarf Pick
India is the home of khadi cloth—handspun, handwoven cotton. The softness of this scarf is attributed to the singles cotton of this cloth. Plus the handspinning provides a slight irregularity to the cotton. The subdued colors of taupe and a cinnamon-red are achieved through the use of low-impact dyes.
If you’ve been following my scarf picks, you’ll notice the weaves are simply intriguing and this one is no different. Three elements are at play in this one all contributing to its uniqueness: the warp threads (running lengthwise) are used both singly and double; the sett is both close and spread apart; and threading of the two colors form stripes. The weft (horizontal threads) repeats some of the same striping and repeats: the taupe is using singly but the cinnamon red is doubled. The cinnamon also increases in the number of weft picks from two to three to four so the stripes change in width. All in all, it comes together in a rich combination. I hope you agree.
And if you want to weigh in on what you think makes a perfect man’s scarf—I’m all ears. I’ll quickly get the loom warped up and ready to start those holiday gifts. Or maybe, I’ll cull through the ClothRoads store and hand select more of the KhatKhata ones.
Special Note: Since I’ve taken you back to the textile-rich land of India, next week my ClothRoads partner Suzanne DeAtley is going to share a behind-the-scenes at Patan Patola, a double ikat weaving workshop where we visited last year.
A very special thank you to Sally Holkar and WomenWeave for an update on this project, the images to accompany it, and to your dedication in keeping traditional textile-making alive.