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Every bag tells a story Part 2

Born in a small town in North East India called Saiha, with very little education, and a basic childhood knowledge of embroidery, this is Tlaii’s story.
“It was thirty years ago that I was taught embroidery at school, yet here I am now learning new embroidery techniques, thanks to Enfair.
It hasn’t always been like this. My husband, who was from a neighbouring state, used to drive other people’s vehicles for a living which was not really paying enough to support us and our two children. We decided to move to Delhi and to make ends meet my husband does odd jobs. This does not provide a regular income for us, so I’m really grateful that I am able to earn money by embroidering bags for Enfair.
It has been a Godsend for our family as I use it for my daughter’s school fees and to pay rent.
I am really enjoying being more creative. I am getting better all the time and feel so proud when I hear people say that they appreciate my handiwork.”
The money that Tlaii earns from embroidering bags is not going to buy her a posh car or a luxury holiday; it provides her with a vital income. She has also gained a sense of pride and her confidence has grown.
We can only hope that her children will have the education they need to move forward in life. All Tlaii wants for her children is a better life than her and her husband have.
Each bag made represents a journey which is as unique as the bags and the women who embroider them.
Every time you purchase a fairly-traded bag or any of the other bespoke items, you are helping these hardworking women to take another step towards independence and empowerment which in turn will improve their communities.

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Every bag tells a story

Tete’s story
“I got married when I was 19 years old and had two children; a boy and a girl. When my daughter was five months old, my husband died. It was hard being a widow with two children.
I went to live with my husband’s family for two years, then according to our custom I returned to live with my parents.
Soon after we moved, my father’s job took us to New Delhi. I had no job and no skills as I had dropped out of school when I got married. I felt lost in my new city.
A few months later I met a lady from Enfair in my new church who asked if I wanted to learn embroidery skills. I felt I needed to learn some new skills, so I thought I’d give it a go.
I’m not a natural at needle work, so I found it quite hard. But my teacher kept encouraging me to keep trying. In a few months’ time I started embroidering the bags and started earning money. This enabled me to be a bit more financially independent and amongst other things I can pay my children’s school fees and pay for their transport to and from school.
I’m so grateful to the Enfair team for teaching me embroidery skills and helping me to earn money this way. I can embroider the bags while caring for my children when they are at school or when they are asleep.
I’ve found that the experience has s boosted my confidence and helped me on the road to standing on my own feet.
I have always wanted to provide for my children who are now eight and four and although I am still depending on my parents for some things, I am hopeful for a better future for myself and my children.”

 Enfair is a Fair trade enterprise with the aim of empowering women in extreme poverty in India, to learn new sewing and embroidery skills. The money made through the sale of the fairly-traded bags and accessories go back into the community to help improve the lives of the women and their families.

Please come along and support our upcoming Sales in Enfield :

Saturday the 18th of November at Enfield Baptist Church (Upper Hall) Cecil Road, EN2 6TG
Saturday the 25th of November at St Andrews Parish Hall Silver Street, EN1 3EG
Thank you for your continued support.

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Loin loom weaving

Hand woven textiles are the new favourite in the ethical fashion world. Hand weaving, in particular back strap/loin loom weaving is an ancient art.A loom is basically a device used to weave cloth.

There are many types of loom used in different parts of the world. The traditional loom used mainly by the tribal people of Northeast India  is known as the back strap loom or the Loin loom. A simple loom holds the warp threads under tension to facilitate the interweaving of the weft threads. The precise shape of the loom and its mechanics may vary, but the basic function is the same. The tools used differ from loom to loom with the kind of pattern the weaver makes.
For centuries, tribal people have used this traditional way of weaving to clothe themselves. Moreover they have managed to invent designs and pattern which has become a form of identity they proudly preserve within their own community. Each tribe has their own design and pattern and they are basically color and simple designs intricately woven and beautifully crafted.
With the back strap loom, one bar is attached to a fixed object and the other to the weaver usually by means of a strap around the back known as “Kawng vawn”. While weaving, two additional bars are attached  on each end which is mainly used to tighten the loom so that it doesn’t move. The bar attached to a fixed object is known as “Poun Kam” and the other bar attached to the weaver with the strap is known as “Kol Ka”. Between the shed, “Pum Long” is inserted to keep the warp separate and easy to weave. One other thing called “Hnah Chawi” which comprise of two sticks is also used to regulate and divide the thread evenly.
Simplified version of traditional weaving can be explained through the following steps: The shed is raised, the shuttle known as “Kho Thei” is passed through, the shed is closed, and the weft thread is beaten into place with a “Lhem”. These steps are then repeated, with a different set of threads being raised so as to interlace the warp and weft. Both simple and complex textiles can be woven on this loom. Width is limited to how far the weaver can reach from side to side to pass the shuttle. Warp faced textiles, often decorated with intricate pick-up patterns woven in complementary and supplementary warp techniques are woven by the people. They produce shawls,scarfs and puan ( a wrap) which is the traditional wrap around worn by the women.The finished products are used to make several things like fashion and home accessories.

Loin loom weaving by our guest blogger Lien Gangte