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Reusing silk sarees is a very old tradition in India. The sari, the national dress of Hindustani women in India, is about 6 meters long. Silk sarees are a precious commodity. They stay in the family for a long time and pass from mother to daughter. But at some point they leave the house. Then the sari is sold to the local "pots and pans woman", or exchanged for cooking utensils.
Katherine, the founder of the House of Wandering Silk label occasionally visits one of those "pots and pans" woman in Gujarat, North West India. The sarees she selects and buys go to the Delhi studio where they are carefully sorted for matching colors, cut to length and washed and ironed. Then they go to West Bengal, to a cooperative of about 1,400 women who are traditionally Kantha embroideres.
The women in West Bengal stitch the silk strips together: the famous Kantha embroidery. A difficult job because the silk is quite “slippery”. Making each scarf takes about 15 to 30 days, depending on how many hours a day the women work on it. On average they embroider about 3 hours a day.
The maker has embroidered her initials in the corner of each scarf.