April 19 2010
Lucia van der Post
I’ve always loved khadi cloth, ever since I first discovered it at the wonderful shop on Delhi’s Connaught Place which is given over mostly to khadi in all its many glorious colours and incarnations. Last time I was there it still cost no more than about £1 a metre.
Khadi cloth, as all Indiaphiles will know, is hand-carded, hand-spun, hand-woven by Indian workers and it may be made of cotton, silk or wool. Gandhi encouraged every family to take up the loom – if everyone wove his own cloth, he believed, then the British hold on India’s textile industry could be broken. So khadi is ineradicably connected with an Indian’s sense of identity and freedom; while he was in jail, Pandit Nehru wove a sari in salmon pink for the wedding of his daughter, Indira.
From next month you don’t have to go to Connaught Place in Delhi – just go along to one or other of the Conran Shops which has collaborated with Indian producers to create the first ever collection of home textiles, bringing together a line of quilts, throws, cushions, table and kitchen linens, all made up in khadi fabric.
The great attraction is a certain homely simplicity. Colours are mostly neutral in shades that range from beige to cream and white. It comes in lots of different weights and weaves, so that a quilt has a different feel from the hand towels which in turn are different from the tea-cosies, the oven gloves, the throws and the fine napkins. Linen napkins and place mats cost £6.95, cushion covers, £19.95, a throw £39 or £59, a beautifully fine pin-tucked quilt £195 and a silk rug – the most expensive item on sale – is £595. In store from May 1.