The first time I said to someone, “I make cloth,” something resonated deep inside me. Making cloth is something so basic and yet so profound. Cloth is such an integral part of our lives, from waking to sleeping, from birth to death, that we don’t always notice it. It even permeates our language with expressions such as the fabric of our lives, the unifying thread and a close-knit family.
A life, like cloth, is also woven – with threads of place and people and passions.
Here are some of the threads of my life.
A childhood wrapped in India’s textiles. I was born and raised in India. I spent thirteen of my first seventeen years surrounded by beautiful, often handmade, textiles — block printed bedspreads, embroidered tea cozies, silk brocade saris, handwoven tablecloths, cotton dhurries, batik wall pieces and so much more.
A lifelong love of handwork-turned-heartwork. My mother taught my sister and me to knit the summer I turned six. The idea was to give us something to do while waiting in lines at the various sights of London. My interests quickly expanded to include crocheting, embroidery, sewing, needlepoint, quilting, tatting and (because it was the ’70s) macramé.
Afternoon cups of chai and black tea. Growing up, I had tea every afternoon around 3:30pm. When I was in boarding, it was hot chai in plastic glasses in the dining room. When I was at home, it was a pot of black tea poured through a strainer and I added my own milk and sugar. And of course there were sweet or savory treats. I now drink my tea black and not just at 3:30pm. There’s still nothing quite as wonderful as an afternoon cup of tea, especially when accompanied by some handwork.
The whimsy of What if …? Pattern, logic, structure and order, numbers, formulas and equations make me happy. The design process – piecing together colors, fibers and patterns – is a mathematical puzzle that brings me joy. I delight in combining weave structures, exploring pattern variations and finding ways to make each kitchen towel and napkin unique, one-of-a-kind.
For fifteen years those life threads of textiles and handwork, tea and whimsy became a business. How could I not name it Whimsy & Tea? I wove kitchen towels and napkins with a desire to bring joy, beauty and nourishment to people as they go about daily life. We spend a big part of our lives doing everyday things – cooking meals, washing dishes, doing laundry. These tasks have become devalued, yet they are an important part of how we care for ourselves and others. So when we give our attention to, and beautify, our homekeeping tasks, routines become rituals of mindful nourishment and self-care.
I’m no longer selling handwoven textiles, but the spirit of Whimsy & Tea continues within the pages of this site, particularly within the blog posts, which are an extension of my time at the loom. They hold the same intention I wove into my textiles: beauty, appreciation and nourishment are available to us when we see the sacred potential of everyday tasks and craft a life of beauty and intentionality.
Many of the themes I wrote about – paying attention to the ordinary moments that aren’t so ordinary, making space for the unknown, listening to your inner wisdom, stepping into enoughness – now express themselves more fully (and a little bit differently) in stories and notes at Walks with Asha.