When travelling around Asia with my sister I fell in love with all the different fabrics, weaving and dying techniques and colours found in the different regions we travelled. From the bright red and gold sari of Kathmandu to the traditional clothes of the Himalayan women we passed in the mountains through to the batik of Sri Lanka.
Not to mention how cool the hats are:
The thing that struck me the most however was the fact that all of these fabrics, clothes and accessories are made mostly by the people wearing them. While trekking in the mountains of Nepal every home seemed to have a loom in the garden with a half finished rainbow of fabric on it while in Sri Lanka there was a sewing machine and a small table. When we were taken to see the women making batik fabric I was amazed to see a few ladies at a big table drawing their patterns with wax before dipping the fabric in a bathtub full of dye and hanging the finished pieces on the washing line at the back of the house.
It was this matter of fact simplicity that encouraged me on my return to try and start my own business crafting form my own home using all the fabrics and techniques I had seen on my travels and of course which led me back to the fabric making cottage industry of my own home Scotland and Harris Tweed.
And so I set about making hats using the warm toned wool of the Islands of Scotland and the beautiful hand painted and hand stitched Kimono fabric of my adopted home of Japan.
But I still dream of going back to Nepal and stocking up on the jewel tone fabrics and turquoise beads to start a new range of hats and I am always happy when I come across another group of people trying to promote the work of small artisans to the world to ensure that the cottage industries of the world aren't lost. Last night this search led me to Threads of Peru: http://threadsofperu.com/
I repeat: There are three things I truly love: indigenous fabrics, colour and llamas. This has them all with awesome hats thrown in like a cherry on top.
In their own words, Threads of Peru is a non-profit organization that connects the world to handmade textiles of Peru; helping to preserve ancient craft techniques and empower indigenous artisans.
They do this by travelling to the remote areas of Peru to help the weavers to perfect their craft before buying the finished fabrics directly from each weaver and selling it online to the world.
The finished products
They also occasionally ask for volunteers to help with their work and are currently looking for someone to photograph and blog about their work and the communities they work with.
Itchy feet, itchy feet, itchy feet!!!!
Peruvian hats coming soon to Aka Tombo...?