From the famous Patola weaving of Patan to the intricate art of wood block printing, India’s mystical textile legacy has long been a touchstone of inspiration for our global designs. As I was amorously ogling the upcoming spring collection, gorgeous prints and hand-dyed fabrics from India kept my eyes sparkling with wonder. My heart leapt at a cardigan inspired by an antique block printed resist-dyed head covering from Gujurat, a sari-inspired little black dress and a skirt patterned after a Punjabi women’s bandhej shawl. We even have a few pieces that have been skillfully hand-embroidered and hand-beaded by artisans in India (remember the Raj Jacket from Holiday?). These striking pieces left me lusting for both the majestic garments and more knowledge about the textile tradition in India.
Indian textiles have flourished for thousands of years and can be traced back to early tribes in the Indus Valley, a Bronze Age civilization from as far back as 2600 B.C.E. They were referenced in ancient Hindu epics, traded along the historic Silk Road and were even found in Egyptian tombs. Prized for meticulous detailing, dazzling uniqueness and innovative techniques, India continues to produce the finest textiles around the world.
Shaped by tradition, location and indigenous materials, every region within India has developed a distinctive style. From batik to printed fabric, from embroidery in the Punjab to the Rajasthan tie dye and from vibrant colors to muted pastels, the varying styles are rich with cultural heritage. The tie-dyed fabrics of Gujarat, known as Bandhej, are among the most celebrated in the world. In fact, Gujarat alone accounts for 25% of India’s massive textile production. Bandhej is a technique in which the printed portion of the fabric is pinched into small sections and then knotted with 2 or 3 threads. These knotted portions are left uncolored as the fabric is dyed in the lightest shade. Then the fabric is retied and dyed in a darker color for a unique shading effect. A similar process, known as Batik, is commonly employed in this area too. Batik also involves dying colors one at a time, from lightest to darkest, but instead of using thread wrapped knots, undyed areas are protected with molten wax. You can find a wide variety of Batik-inspired pieces throughout our collection, including the Totem Tank Dress.
Often used to make wedding saris, the famous Patola weaving of Patan is known for its colorful and strikingly beautiful geometric patterns. Using a unique tie and weave method, silk threads are dyed in warps and wefts and then carefully woven on a hand operated harness loom made from rosewood and bamboo. Requiring extreme precision as the weft is woven into the warp, the desired pattern is achieved by an intricate juxtaposition of similarly dyed shades on equal lengths of interlaced warp and weft threads. It is a highly complicated process that has been perfected over the millennia.
Although the traditional method of Ajrakh is being replaced by more modern techniques, the intricate art of printing fabrics using wood blocks continues to blossom in Dhamadka, Jetpur and Kutch. Expensive and labor intensive, the entire process of Ajrakh involves 13 successive stages. After the fabric has been prepared and treated, a resist paste is block-printed by hand in order to retain the white areas of the final design. Different solutions are then individually applied to create the colorful portions of the pattern. For example, an alum solution mordant is applied onto areas that will eventually turn red. This complicated process yields a wonderful depth of color that can not be achieved with surface printing.
India has a vivacious reputation not only for their remarkable dying and weaving traditions, but also for their elaborate artistry in embroidery and beading. Using needle and thread, small mirrors, beads, gold filaments and even broken glass can be used to create illustrious embroideries. From this small sampling of techniques, I hope you too have an appreciation for the legendary acclaim of India’s textile tradition and an eager anticipation of our new spring collection!
Image of Qanat and child's dress from the Textile Museum's permanent collections. See more Indian artistry as home furnishings in the Textile Museum's upcoming exhibit:
The Art of Living: Textile Furnishings from the Permanent Collection, Feb. 12, 2010 – Jan. 3, 2011
November 23, 2009
Tagged Ajrakh, Bandhej, batik, embroidery, hand-dyed, India, Patola, saris, Silk Road, Textile Museum, textiles, tie dye, wood block printing
Every year when the temperatures start to fall, I’m compelled to get out the knitting needles, and go to the local knitting shop for some luscious new yarn. I only use yarns that inspire me, and nothing inspires me like a really soft, silky hand-dyed yarn in beautiful colors. I’m also inspired by the challenge of a new, innovative scarf pattern. One of PC’s designers, Tabbetha, who also happens to be a masterful knitter and all-around textile enthusiast, created two designs specifically for Peruvian Connection Baby Alpaca Handpainted Yarn. Whether you’re just beginning, or have been knitting for a lifetime, I think these patterns will inspire you. Click below for printable pdfs:
You can purchase our Baby Alpaca Handpainted Yarn or Huaranguito Wood Knitting Needles by clicking on the links below. Not a knitter? You can also browse our website for Handknit Sweaters, or learn more about The Craft of Art Knitting and the countless hours that go into our luxury fiber garments. Or visit our stores to purchase yarn and knitting needles and get inspired by our luxurious handknits.
If you are in the U.S., please click here:
If you are in the U.K., please click here:
p.s. The Knitting Fool website was recommended by Eva, one of PC’s German staff members and accomplished knitter, as a reference for some of the Knitting Abbreviations used in these patterns.
November 16, 2009
Tagged alpaca, art knitting, baby alpaca, hand-dyed, handknit sweaters, handknitting, knitting needles, knitting patterns, luxury fibers, yarn
From ancient Andean knits, Argentinean leather and Austrian crystal, we transcend global boundaries, searching the world for the most treasured resources. More recently, we have tapped into the vast wealth of Eastern textile traditions, most importantly China’s unprecedented silk legacy. Our talented designers and dedicated pattern makers have partnered with the world’s foremost silk manufacturers to bring you the most coveted fashions.
Chinese legend bestows Lady His-Ling-Shih with the mythical title Goddess of Silk, who is credited with the advent of silk production in China from 3000BC. Her monumental silk heritage may not be as far fetched as it seems. In fact, silkworms will only eat fresh mulberry trees and for thousands of years these trees were found only in China and Japan. It was not until 600 AD that the indigenous mulberry tree was smuggled out of China and brought westward.
China’s magical silk legacy lies within its unique cultivation of the blind, flightless moth, Bombyx Mori. It is believed that the original ancestor of this moth was the Bombyx Mandarina Moore, a silk moth that lived on the white mulberry trees found only in China. Today, China is still the leading cultivator of this special moth species, which produces the finest, smoothest and roundest filament. The production of high quality silk is highly complicated and time-demanding, requiring precise temperature and diet regulations. The Chinese have long been heralded for their meticulous cultivation of these sensitive moths.
Silkworm eggs must be cultivated at 65 degrees, gradually and steadily increasing to 77 degrees, at which point they will hatch. Once hatched, the worms are regularly fed fresh, hand-picked mulberry leaves every half hour, day and night, multiplying their weight 10,000 times within a single month. During this period of growth, they must be kept at a fixed temperature and protected from loud noises, drafts and strong smells. Classical music is often played softly in the background, which increases their rate of growth.
After they have stored up enough energy, the silkworms will spend 3 or 4 days spinning a cloud-like cocoon around themselves. When they are ready to be unwound for their precious silk filaments, about 8 or 9 days later, the worms are gently dipped into hot water to loosen the tight threads. From each cocoon a single filament between 2,000 and 2,500 feet long will be obtained, which is then twisted together with 5 to 8 other filaments to make a single thread! It is at this point that the threads can be woven into beautiful cloth.
Today China is the leading producer of silk in the world, and for good reasons! Here at Peruvian Connection, we have been reveling in the luxury of fine, Chinese silk, which is like no other. We invite you to delight your senses in our exclusive silk confections, such as the French Quarter Dress, the Rosebud Dressor even the Black Magic Skirt, bringing to you our distinctive designs on a palette of prized silk.
Film Noir is described as "a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations." Inspired by Lauren Bacall's character in "Scandal in Bohemia", our Film Noir Dress fits the bill as the perfectly stylish Little Black Dress, with a subtle but sexy front slit, low v-neck, and retro-chic broad shoulders. Playing Irene Adler in the Sherlock Holmes crime drama, Bacall would have wowed them with the 2009 version of her dress.
Film Noir Dress
Look for more femme fatale styles in the new Sherlock Holmes movie, coming in December 2009, starring Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes and Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler. According to the movie's website, we shall see Detective Sherlock Holmes and his stalwart partner Watson as they engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis whose plot is a threat to all of England.
Last weekend my mother and I took the Eurostar from London to Paris to visit my daughter who lives in the 15th arrondissement.
Paris in the fall was fabulous. We enjoyed the street-dancing & music in lively rue Mouffetard on Sunday, the awesome Jacquemart-André Museum in Boulevard Haussmann on Monday and the bustling street market in rue St Charles on Tuesday.
This trip was part of my gift to my mother in a special birthday year and the highlight was the surprise rendezvous which my American cousin from Lexington, Mass., and I had arranged in a restaurant on the left bank, La Boussole (it specialises in the use of world spices in French cuisine – go there!).
It was a wonderful family reunion, and great fun catching up with all the trans-Atlantic news. My cousin spent his summer in his seaside home in Chatham on Cape Cod. We were spellbound by his account of the recent arrival of thousands of seals on the sand spits there, which sounded enchanting until he explained how not only are they are destroying the local fish stocks, causing concern to the New England fishing industry, but they are also attracting great white sharks which are coming dangerously close to the shore. Both are protected species so resolving the issue so that the refreshing Atlantic waters will once again be safe for bathing is presenting a dilemma for the authorities.
Ann Parker-Smith, PC Europe, Goring-on-Thames, England
If you would like to – safely! – indulge in a touch of the beauty of the Cape this fall, the shimmery shades of sea and shore are reflected in one of our most magnificent handknits of the collection, our Nantucket Cardigan, an exclusive, limited-edition art knit designed for us by the renowned textile artist, Kaffe Fassett. Submerge yourself in the silky softness of this pima cotton creation and be a stylish sensation of the season!