My first encounter with the charkha was when I learned about Gandhi and Indian independence. I was enthralled with the central role spinning and textiles took in a political and social movement. Now I am so excited to find a book that discusses both the historical importance of spinning on an Indian box charkha and a modern movement that is bringing the craft of spinning back to a more central role in India. Chalo Charkho Ramiye is a contemporary charkha movement dedicated to accomplishing this.
This book, with the same name as the movement, describes the historical and social importance of charkha spinning and provides an overview of how to use an Indian box charkha. Detailed photos and descriptions illustrate how to prepare cotton fiber, spin a consistent yarn, and wind the resulting yarn into neatly secured hanks. The photos clear any confusion that arises from differences in language styles. Of particular value are the tips for how to improve your spinning and how to measure improvements using focused practice sessions of short duration, evaluating both the quality and quantity of the yarn produced. This method can be applied to any spinning style and tool, helping spinners to be more deliberate about what they want to improve in their spinning practice and making improvements easier to see with a conscious assessment of the resulting yarn.
Avani Varia's book, Chalo Charkho Ramiye, is available in three different languages at her website: avanivaria.com
Editor's note: Read more about Avani and the Chalo Charkho Ramiye contemporary charkha movement in the Fall 2021 issue of Spin Off magazine.
This article first appeard in Spin Off Fall 2021.