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April 28, 2023
The Chicago-Chakouri Knitting Project is a collaborative effort that brings together six non-profits and two social enterprises from around the United States.
What began as a plan to link two non-profit organizations in Chicago quickly evolved into a cross-cultural initiative that linked Chicagoans with women knitters in Chakouri, India, on the other side of the world.
Due to a grant from the Simmons Center of Global Chicago, this project has become possible. The knitters are members of the fair trade women's knitting collective Himalayan Naari.
Everyone in Chicago who is interested is welcome to participate in the project, but it is especially focused on involving youth to motivate and engage them to become fair trade proponents. The Chicago Fair Trade (CFT) Museum will be hosting an exhibit as well as a knitting circle from April 14 to May 14, 2023 to feature the women knitters. Participants are invited to knit a square that will eventually form part of a blanket.
The blanket will be assembled from the knitted squares during the World Fair Trade Day Celebration on May 14 -15 at the CFT Museum.
TerraKlay, a CFT business member, is involved in the project. Manvee Vaid of TerraKlay, also being a director at Himalyan Naari and is the point of contact with the women knitters.
The patchwork blanket creates a sense of unity by bringing together individuals from various backgrounds and representing a collage of ideas, cultures, and people. The love for this project builds a strong community among those involved.
The Chaukori Patchwork Blanket is unique with its own distinct pattern and color scheme, and it's hand-knitted and finished in 4 weeks, ensuring that they are not only beautiful but also durable and long-lasting. No two blankets are alike.
What's exciting is that you can own one of the beautiful Chaukori Patchwork Blankets! These blankets are truly one-of-a-kind, hand-knitted with love and care by skilled artisans at Himalayan Naari.
As a part of their commitment to fostering relationships with the artisans and the community, the blankets are being offered at a special pre-order price of $449, originally priced at $550. By purchasing one of these blankets, you'll be directly supporting the artisans and the knitting they are involved in.
This is a special offer that won't last forever, so take advantage of this amazing opportunity to own a hand-knitted Chaukori Patchwork Blanket and support the artisans in their craft. It's a chance to experience the warmth and comfort of these beautiful blankets in your own home while making a difference in the lives of the women knitters in Chakouri.
We extend a special thank you to Kristine Brandel for generously volunteering her time, sharing her passion for knitting, and offering her expertise. We also express our gratitude to the following organizations for making this project possible:
March 01, 2023
After China, India is the second-largest producer of cotton. Around 5.8 million farmers grow cotton with many millions more working within India’s cotton industry.
India has been producing cotton for textiles and various products for thousands of years and it is one of its most important exports.
It is a device used by weavers to weave fabric by interlacing warp and weft threads. A hand loom allows the weaver to create cloth faster and more evenly by providing tension on the warp threads. Hand looms range in complexity from simple, portable backstrap looms to complex, room-sized jacquard looms. Handloom fabric is typically made from natural fibers such as cotton, silk, and wool.Handloom products are timeless
Every aspect of handloom fabrics is created manually, by hand. Fibres are spun and woven in-house and no two fabrics are the same. Handloom fabrics reflect the artisan who has woven them, creating unique, timeless works of art.
TerraKlay is excited to be partnering with cooperatives in South India. Giving farmers who use rainfed agricultural methods, global connections and opportunities to sell their products.
TerraKlay's cotton handloom towels, including hand towels, bath towels, and kitchen towels, are made entirely from local materials, preserving traditional skills. Our collaborations benefit farmers' livelihoods and long-term agricultural practices, and we take pride in promoting ethical and fair business practices across our organization.
Our women artisans make each handloom towel with commitment and appreciation, knowing that they will be able to provide for their families and share their traditional craft with the rest of the world.
So, the next time you search the Internet for towels and decide to buy Turkish towels, keep in mind that there is a better option.
Towels made of 100% organic cotton handloomed by TerraKlay. We're thrilled that, as part of our commitment to sustainability, we can offer products that are as functional as they are beautiful. Use them as bathroom towels, beach or pool towels, picnic blankets. They are highly absorbent, light weight and absorbent. Honestly better than most Turkish towels in the market today.
February 08, 2023
All TerraKlay’s products are named after the amazing artisans who craft them and we can’t wait to expand to include all the talented women at Himalayan Naari. Join us for an interview with Kathleen Bollerud, the founder of this fair trade, non-profit organization that has been dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls in Northern India for the last 13 years.
They say everything happens for a reason, and I believe that is true. One trip to India changed my life. After traveling with a tour guide, we ventured north to a timeshare we had been told about and discovered the beautiful villages and scenery of the Himalayas. It quickly became apparent that the lives in this region was quite difficult, especially for women and girls. There was limited education and few prospects them. We decided to help and through the Himalayan Education Foundation (HEF) began providing scholarships for girls from remote rural villages. Over the years, we were able to bring many girls to our school and they have done very well.
Around 2012, one of the student's mothers asked “What will you do for the women?” I was completely floored; we had not thought about it. In meeting with the women, it quickly became obvious the sacrifices these mothers were making to send their children to school in the hope of a better life.
They lived in one room with their children, away from their home farms, with no gardens, animals, or income. These women desperately wanted to be able to provide for themselves. As we were meeting, we noticed that all the women were knitting. Through HEF, we agreed to provide the women with good quality wool and try and sell their knitting in the USA. This was the birth of Himalayan Naari.
The first challenge we faced was getting to the villages in the first place. We didn’t know about the wet monsoon season and most of the roads had been washed away and were dangerous to drive on.
We decided to walk as we saw many other Indian’s doing and that is how we met some Kumaon women carrying heavy loads down the trails.
Along this journey, there have been many challenges to overcome. It has been amazing, but we believe that when you need help, people will come. We have found and worked with so many wonderful people along the way, who have helped us set up and teach a variety of skills such as computer science, dairy farming, and sewing reusable sanitary products.
The first bundle of knitting brought to the USA was knit well but the finishing was not good enough for the western market. We spend 9 months of training to upskill the artisans. Now, their products are exquisitely finished every time. We, then, began to making hats and mittens, which are still some of our more popular items today.
After discovering the lonely and isolated lives of the mothers in Chakouri, we brought them together to create Himalayan Naari. After renting a place for them to meet, they quickly realized that they needed a Women’s Center to develop their own community.
In 2013 women from the northern village of Munsiyari asked to join the project. They are weavers and create stunning handwoven blankets and products. Their craft was dying out without a means to sell their products. By selling their products in the US, Himalayan Naari has given them back economic independence, which is our main goal.
In 2022 the women's group had expanded to 57 knitters, 4 employees. We have almost eliminated anemia through our nutrition project and have just secured free medical, dental, and vision tests for 2023 for all artisans.
The women's group outgrew their first building after a few years. Since then, we have built a large women’s center with assistance from Himalayan InterCollege (HIC), the local school. We now have a local store for selling products, a workshop, a kitchen, and wool storage area. Our goal is to teach women how to become entrepreneurs and create their own financial stability.
We have also been given 6 acres of land by HIC which contained a tea plantation. The women farm this land, growing vegetables and selling them to the school. This collaboration provides income for the women and helps to improve diets and eradicate malnutrition. Each year we also receive assistance through grants and donations to help us continue to grow.
Wherever possible we use natural materials and dyes. Wool is sourced from shepherds whose sheep graze in the Himalayan mountains between Tibet and Nepal. The wool is handspun and of high quality.
We also use cotton, fine wool, and dye fibers with natural plant dyes, to help look after our environment. Some people cannot tolerate wool; we do make products of high quality blends that are manufactured according the highest environmental standards.
We are excited to partner with Manvee Vaid and TerraKlay. Manvee brings a strong business sense and more experience in retail and design. We have known her for several years and hope she will continue with us on our journey. With the TerraKlay partnership, we hope to increase the entrepreneurism of Naari members and continue to grow the number of women artisans.
December 10, 2022
On cold winter nights, all you want to do is curl up in a warm blanket and watch Netflix or reading a book while sipping a warm beverage like hot chocolate or tea.
TerraKlay handmade throw blankets exemplify the beauty of natural materials and simple colors. One that will keep you warm, can be passed down as an heirloom, and will last a long time.
Surely there can’t be that much difference, except the handmade blankets can take longer to make?
That’s where you’d be wrong. A hand-woven or knitted blanket is more than just a blanket; it's the story of the women artisan who crafted it, it's the love and attention to detail that went into creating that blanket for you and it is the commitment to keeping old traditions alive.
During the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, I started working with two small groups of women artisans in North India. Situated in the beautiful terrain of Uttarakhand around 15 hours north of the capital Delhi. We first communicated by email but this soon led to phone calls. Over many hours we formed deep connections and shared family stories as well as conversed about business. Distance became irrelevant.
One group of women, Maati Sangathan (Women Collective) have worked together since the 90s and work hard to promote women's rights and help enable them to make money at home and a supportive community. TerraKlay works with 10 women artisans who hand weave our blankets using all local wool, all naturally dyed.
The other group of women, the Himalayan Naari (Himalayan Women) are knitters located in Chakouri. TerraKlay collaborates with 50 knitters, to knit our throw blankets. They also knit woolen mittens, caps and other winter products. They work to improve their lives, showing that they can be financially independent and work from home even in rural, mountainous regions.
Our artisans use handlooms and knitting to create beautifully crafted traditional wool textiles.
Our luxury knitted blankets are lovingly created using 100% Merino wool. It takes about 3-4 weeks to complete one knitted blanket and nearly weighs 4 pounds. Our blankets drape elegantly over furniture, ready to provide warmth and comfort on a cold winter's night. Our artisans create a small range of stylish hand-crafted knitted blankets from the comfort of their own homes. A perfect metaphor as the finished blankets is a welcome addition to your home.
Our woven blankets are made using a variety of wool mixes, primarily Merino and cruelty-free Angora wool all naturally dyed. Making them super soft, plush, and warm, our blankets come in a range of colors, and complimentary shades of gray, brown, and white make our blankets the perfect gift for any home. Hand weaving is a craft that has been passed down through generations, our artisans are helping keep this traditional craft alive and creating stunning products to share with you at the same time.
November 21, 2022
We all have one family member or friend who’s impossible to shop for, so we’ll make it easy for you this year. Our Hot Chocolate Mugs Gift Box is the ultimate gift because who can resist a decadent cup of hot cocoa on a cold day? The gift box includes a tin of fair trade hot chocolate and two large handcrafted mugs, perfectly shaped to fit the palms of your hands and bring instant warmth. We’ve even wrapped the set for you so all you have to do is hand it over with a smile.
If you’re traveling for the holidays, you’ll want a hostess gift that can lay flat in your suitcase and still look fresh upon arrival. Our holiday embroidered hand towels are wonderfully festive and stocked in two gorgeous colors. The set comes with one striped bath towel and one hand towel, which are versatile and timeless. Then the present is topped with two embroidered wash cloths.The holly and candy cane embroidery adds a touch of whimsy to any bathroom or kitchen. This set is sure to charm any host.
Any home cook knows you can never have too many kitchen towels, but they’re not exactly an item you’re excited about buying yourself. Our kitchen towel gift set is a work of beauty. Complete with an olive wood spoon, it’s ideal for anyone on your list who cooks. The set includes two organic cotton towels, one of which has ties for a quick apron, and a wooden spoon to stir and mix all the hearty soups your loved ones will be making this winter. The whole package is put together in a cotton sleeve, complete with a bow.
Whether you’re welcoming a new neighbor or shopping for a friend who loves to host, deck their dining table with a set of colorful handmade napkins. One of our most popular products, the ombre napkins make the perfect gift. The traditional yet contemporary pattern is made using a centuries-old Japanese technique called shibori. Each napkin is individually hand-dyed and positively stunning. Stick with one color or mix and match any of the shades together for an unexpected touch. Whatever you do, just make sure to add another set to the cart for yourself because you’ll definitely want your own.
We’re not only keeping our friends and family close this holiday season, we’re keeping them cozy. Beautifully crafted and ethically hand-loomed by female artisans from the Himalayan belt, the Deepika Checkered Throw is the warmest way to give sustainable style. Made with 100% ethically sourced merino wool, angora wool, and natural dyes, our throw makes the perfect companion for lounging around the firepit or star-gazing. The Deepika Checkered Throw will be the most thoughtful gift for your loved ones to snuggle in and enjoy.
We’re all excited to sit down to a home cooked meal with our family and friends this holiday season. Our kitchen essentials basket is a winning present for aspiring cooks or seasoned chefs looking to upgrade their collection. All the items come in one handmade natural fiber basket that includes: two organic cotton dish towels, an olive wood spoon, solid olive wood rolling pin, and a half apron hand-loomed in 100% organic cotton. Plus, the basket is strategically designed to be reused as a catchall or planter. Your loved ones are bound to think of you everytime they use an item from this set, which will be daily.
November 08, 2022
Set the tone for holiday gatherings with our timeless tablescape, which is hand dyed and handcrafted by artisans in India using natural ingredients.
The fabric is hand-dyed napkins made by the Chicago-based ethical brand TerraKlay. The napkins are so lovely that they can double as both the gift and the packaging. And, of course, as reusable napkins for adorning a festive holiday table. They sell sets of six different colors of Geetha Shibori Dyed Cotton Napkins, four of which we used in this post.
The striking table runner we used is actually two-sided! It’s the Chechi Runner in Pink, another entertaining essential that comes in seven hues.
The jute placemats are from fair trade decor brand Will + Atlas, and truly fit any vibe such as this more formal Friendsgiving spread. TerraKlay offers a similar design made of upcycled banana fibers.
Pro tip: Check out Gracious Garlands for selecting your Holiday Greenery for your table. From Garlands to Wreaths they have it all covered!
Back to the napkins. The Shibori dyed patterns on them are really lovely, and are more beautiful in-person versus photos. TerraKlay’s textiles and decor are made by people, not factories, in India, who have been working in their craft for generations. They also partner with young adults to support their vocational education. Learn more about their team and founder Manvee Vaid here.
Pro tip: Tie scrap ribbon from your holiday gift wrapping around your napkins for cute bow “rings” that make each place setting look like a present!
Here’s a close up of the four napkin colors on the pink runner showing the richness of the dye.
What do your holiday tables look like? Do you go for traditional seasonal colors or something more surprising?
If you’re considering a zero waste swap for the new year, ditch the paper towels for a good set of cotton or linen napkins. Not only does it reduce waste, but meals feel just a bit fancier because of it!
The original article is written by ANGELA HAMILTON founder of Eco Club. She is a copywriter and editor for small, creative businesses. She is most passionate about nature, creativity, and self care. She lives with her partner and two kitties in a petite Seattle apartment.
It has been edited from its original content to fit this blog article.
October 02, 2022
This October is National Fair Trade Month, which raises awareness about the importance of the fair trade movement to our global economy and promotes purchasing from fair trade businesses rather than those that may harm the environment, the economy, communities, and individuals. At TerraKlay, we are awaiting approval for our Fair Trade certification, and in this article, we will discuss why fair trade is at our heart.
To begin with, we thought it would be useful to clarify what constitutes a fair trade business. By definition, fair trade businesses must meet a set of standards in the sourcing and production of a product. They advocate for transparency and respect in international trade to ensure ethical practices are followed.
For the workers, this means a living wage, safe working conditions, and the protection of their workers' rights. For consumers, fair trade means knowing that a product was sourced and manufactured ethically.
The national fair trade month, which takes place in October, aims to raise awareness about fair trade certified businesses. Fair trade businesses adhere to an ethical standard that ensures they participate in global trade in a fair and respectful manner.
This month, we encourage consumers to seek out and support local fair trade businesses.
TerraKlay was founded on fair trade principles, with our artisans at the heart of our operations. TerraKlay was created to provide a platform for female artisans who have passed down their skills through generations as well as those who are ready to start a new chapter in their lives by learning new skills. We want to recognize their efforts, highlight their potential, and help them achieve financial stability.
All of our products are handcrafted by skilled artisans who have honed their skills. These artisans work in community groups where they set and decide their own wages. TerraKlay believes that providing a fair wage that is reflective of an individual's skill, knowledge, and abilities is a primary responsibility.
We've always wanted to recognize the talents of our artisans. TerraKlay would not be the brand that it is today without their expertise and craftsmanship. As a result, we've decided to name our products after one of our artisans. We hope this gives our artisans who work on our products the opportunity to become partners, encouraging them to explore their roles and develop their skills as designers and creative thinkers.
Products and Materials
TerraKlay was built on the foundation of reflecting each artisan's traditions, knowledge, and individuality, as well as their heritage and cultural background. Material selection is one way to show appreciation for our artisans. Using materials that have been used by multiple generations is a way we honor our artisans and their heritage.
TerraKlay's material selection is centered on sustainability. We want the products we use to benefit, rather than harm, the community from which they are sourced. The combination of high-quality materials obtained in a sustainable and ethical manner ensures that, as a consumer, your purchase has a positive impact on the community from which your product originated!
September 14, 2022
Bettina is deeply committed to sustainability and works as a recipe consultant, having written three cookbooks. She also contributes to Country & Townhouse Magazine.
Bettina's London home was hosting a series of exclusive supper clubs. Each event will have ten high-profile client guests in attendance, and she wants to create the most encapsulating and memorable tablescape for them using TerraKlay product.
Read all about it here.
She says "Unique, made in small batches and absolutely gorgeous! People seem to be taking pleasure in setting their tables for dinner in increasing elaborate fashions, thinking about colour schemes, styling details and investing in accessories such as napkins, candles and vases! Of course, it makes sense to lay your table with appropriate utensils and to create atmosphere if you're hosting, but this is more than that, it's an opportunity to be creative. Dare I say it, it feels like art!"
May 25, 2022
Spring has a rejuvenating quality to it. Following months of cold and gloomy weather, many people feel compelled to spruce up their kitchens and welcome the spirit of the new season. However, it may be difficult to know where to begin when reorganizing your kitchen. That is why we are here today to try to help you refresh your spring kitchen décor on a budget without adding to the mess!
If you want to refresh your kitchen without making major changes, here are a few simple ideas for home decor that might help you enjoy your kitchen inside and out.
Investing in high-quality, aesthetically pleasing kitchen tools, such as utensils, pitchers, mugs, or jars, is one of the best and easiest ways to decorate a kitchen for any season. This serves three functions: it adds character and warmth to the kitchen while also allowing you to reduce clutter at the workstation, saving money and giving the impression of a minimalistic home decor.
When shopping for cutting boards, utensils, coffee mugs, towels, jars, pitchers, or even paper towel holders, look for those that can serve two functions. We have some great tumbler mugs and kitchen towel sets at TerraKlay that can add a unique touch to the overall appearance of your kitchen and have multiple functions, making it versatile.
Since spring has arrived, what could be more appropriate for decorating than some brightly colored flowers? I know it's not groundbreaking, but adding flowers is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to improve the look of your kitchen and add a refreshing vibe throughout the room. People are often drawn to living plants in the home. Nothing beats a bouquet of lilies or tulips, a live plant, to herald the arrival of spring. A quick and easy way to complete your spring kitchen decor is to add blooms or greenery.
If you've been looking for a great modern planter, look no further because we have some lovely eco-friendly banana fibre planters.
Incorporate elements in your kitchen that add character to the overall aesthetics. My grandmother's mortar and pestle, a vintage wood bowl, brass rice containers, and traditional utensils are my go-to pieces. Dig out your grandmother's kitchen pieces with a bit of character, as these add a touch of warmth to the space without feeling too formal. They blend in seamlessly with the kitchen because it's only natural for them to be there!
If your dining table is in your kitchen, it is preferable to add some texture. Table runners can help you with this while also adding style and decor. TerraKlay has some elegant table runners that can add style to your otherwise boring kitchen table. Here too, don't forget to add some flowers to liven up your lunches and dinners.
May 24, 2022
In unimaginable ways, a basket can improve the ambience of your space. You can come up with creative ways to use baskets in your home decor. A basket is one of the most beautiful and versatile home decor ideas that will always enhance the beauty of your living space. They can also be a great help in organizing your craft supplies and garden tools or help carry your picnic lunch to the park.
Having these fiber baskets in your home not only adds panache and aesthetics to the ambiance of your house but also brings nature and cultural values to its overall appearance.
TerraKlay fiber baskets come from nature and are handmade by the local women in South India, providing them with better income opportunities while protecting the region's natural ecology. The fiber used to crochet this product is locally available and made from "dead" banana tree leaves. These previously discarded leaves then find a new life in contemporary and sustainable design and production, which are then intertwined to make different thickness ropes. Women then hand crochet and weave those ropes to create these eco-friendly artisanal storage baskets.
When paired with a cool idea, these functional baskets bring out the ambiance of the house. So let's not wait any further and look at the helpful ways to incorporate basket decor ideas into your home.
Organize Your Bathroom -
TerraKlay's natural banana fiber baskets are visually appealing enough to capture the viewer's attention in seconds. If you have a large bathroom with a bathtub, the round basket in different sizes can help you keep everything organized. Furthermore, you can use it as a laundry basket to store paper rolls, cloth napkins, face or skincare products, or those furry slippers you love slipping into after a bath.
Storage You Won't Want to Hide -
As organizers, standard options include storage bins. TerraKlay's rectangle banana fiber basket can be used to store firewood around the fireplace or even organize blankets during the chilly months. You can also use it to store coffee table books, photo albums, or magazines next to your sofa. It will help you make better use of your space while also enhancing your decor.
Plant Your Kitchen-Garden -
Using baskets as planters is a great, one-of-a-kind way to add texture and charm to your garden or indoor living spaces. TerraKlay’s natural fiber baskets can also be used as planters for indoor and outdoor use.
Keep Your Counters Clean -
Arranging a kitchen counter can be a daunting task for most of us, but once completed, we feel much more accomplished. Yes, we have a basket to organize those random spices and oils. You can also use the basket to store all of your kitchen towel sets and other kitchen textiles. A shallow tray basket is ideal for organizing table candles, pens, and other valuable silverware.
Experimenting with a basket may sound exciting, but the main goal when using it in your living space should be to keep it simple and useful. TerraKlay.com is a great place to look for more natural fiber home accessories, such as coasters and placemats for the kitchen and tabletop.
April 22, 2019
November 28, 2018
“The armed insurgency that broke out in 1989 has had a devastating effect on the normal life of people living in Kashmir. The number of orphans in Kashmir mushroomed dramatically . . . tens of thousands of people have been killed, and an estimated 10,000 disappeared during the past 25 years of the armed rebellion. . . .”
–from BWF’s IDS grant application