"We learned knitting and weaving from our families since childhood. Most of us learned the art from our mothers. We share our techniques with each other to improve and learn together."
Established in 2010 in a hill station in Uttarakhand, India, Himalayan Naari is a women weavers group. The weavers in the area were making and selling their knitting and textile arts long before that, but Himalayan Naari has given them a larger market and more regular sales.
The women at the organization make exquisite high-quality handmade products with beautiful designs in order to improve their living standards. Many of the women in Naari have very difficult financial circumstances. "We have struggles to educate our children and have had to deal with malnutrition in our family," they say.
"We learned knitting and weaving from our families since childhood. Most of us learned the art from our mothers. We share our techniques with each other to improve and learn together.
"We purchase the wool for our knitting as a group and have it spun. The lamb's hair is very fine and more challenging to knit with. Older women in our community raise rabbits and comb them to obtain the angora that we use.
"Making perfect quality for western markets is a challenge. We work hard day and night to ensure that every item that we ship is perfect.
"We've had wonderful times together, singing and dancing — this brings us a lot of joy and laughter. We recently opened the Himalayan Naari's Women Center. We hope that Himalayan Naari will be known for its unique designs and wonderful quality of work all around the world."
Basanti Karki, one of the weavers, lives with her two children and a number of nieces and nephews who all attend school here. She has been an active participant of Naari since its founding in 2010. A master knitter, Basanti has sent many beautiful products to the USA. Since joining Himalayan Naari, Basanti explains, "I have grown in my self-confidence and can work very hard now. Naari is a breakthrough for women's empowerment and I hope it will thrive in future."
A founding member of Himalayan Naari, Deepa Koranga is a mother of energetic twin boys. She lives in a rented room so that they can attend school. Deepa herself has an 8th-grade education but has high hopes for her sons. In talking about her own ambitions, Deepa commented, "At Himalayan Naari, we work cooperatively together. I have learned new knitting stitches and some computer skills. Himalayan Naari has given me self-determination and economic independence."