kara weaves

by Grace Bonney

when it comes to our bathroom i like to stick to basics- solid white towels and wash cloths and soft, fluffy white bathmats. but sometimes it’s fun to shake it up and a bit and these beautiful hand-woven cotton bath towels from india are just the ticket. based in kerala, india, kara weaves is a studio of designers who produce hand-woven, pure cotton home textiles that ooze the sort of warmth that only handmade work can. kara weaves only recently introduced an e-commerce shop and now anyone with a computer can pick up their beautiful textiles. i’m partial to the bath towels but you can also pick up some lovely cushions and curtains. click here to check out the full collection. thanks, chitra!


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  • Many of us are anxiously awaiting the results of your hand painted contest! Will there be news today?

  • Many of us are awaiting news of your hand-painted contest! Will there be news today?

  • oh, i LOVE these! what a fun change from the usual terry options. has anyone tried using a towel like this as a bath towel? i’m just wondering if they’re as functional as the terry version?

  • Beautiful colors, and I love that these are hand-woven! Reasonably priced, too! I see that one of the people behind this venture is a fellow Cranbrook alum — there’s got to be an interesting story in that. Maybe this is part of a Fulbright?

  • Hello everyone! Firstly thanks a ton for all the lovely comments!!
    I want to assure everyone that these towels are super absorbent. Being light they dry very quickly and require little water for wash and maintenance. In Kerala they have been used for generations as they are the traditional towels. This is one of the main reasons we work with these products as they are time tested for absorbency and easy maintenance. (Hand or machine wash with very mild bleach works perfect for looking after them).

    I personally also use them for travel as they dry faster & occupy less space than the conventional towels.

    Thank you Grace, we’re over the moon about this!
    We are so thrilled to find other handloom fans, we’re all out to make everyone happy customers! :)

  • I am a HUGE fan of all their products! The towels are aesthetic,easy to use & ideal for travel as they are light. I love their curtains & cushion covers.We also use their bath robes – made from the same towel material.Highly recommended :)

  • Dear Visualingual,
    Yes I’m a student currently at Cranbrook in the 2d design dept, set to graduate in 2009. My mom Indu & her pals are running the show frm Kerala, India, & started Kara Weaves sometime last year.

    I’m here in India on my summer holidays and decided to take up the online store set-up as my summer project.

    Like Vidya wrote in her comments, we’re trying out newer products too and are slowly planing to add them to our online list.

    So glad to see the response to our work here, this is a definite inspiration to set the bar higher!

  • “a studio of designers who produce hand-woven, pure cotton home textiles that ooze the sort of warmth that only handmade work can.”

    I would love to know more about this company and their labor practices. The towels are absolutely gorgeous, and actually just what I’ve been wanting: I prefer thin towels because they dry quickly in the humid southeast. But how can these be hand-loomed fairly and sold for $15 each? I hope Chitra can tell us more about the labor standards of Kara Weaves, many thanks!

  • Dear Amy,
    I understand your concern regarding the fair-trade in Handloom. Here’s how it happened for us:
    My mom Indu is an anthropologist and co-authored a book in the 80’s on Women Weavers of South India (http://www.amazon.com/Women-Weavers-Cma-Monograph-149/dp/8120405978/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1217651892&sr=1-6)
    A few years ago she re-visited the same weaving units and found them to be in a similar or worse condition of decline. That’s when we put our minds together to find a solution and Kara Weaves was born. It came out of the sheer frustration at the state of decline in use and demand of our traditional weaves.
    Kara Weaves is a non-profit partnership venture entirely self-initiated and self-financed.
    We are working with government weaving co-operatives who work under subsidies and social security schemes from the government. How we resolved the issue of helping out the handloom industry in Kerala in our small way is to increase the demand for it by designing products that fit an urban lifestyle and by using newer marketing strategies.
    Another thing we do is to get fabric woven at different units including those that are doing well (through loans and self-initiated efforts) and those that are doing poorly. With money made by the sale of fabric from both, we are re-channeling funds into reviving the dwindling units.
    We hope that by supporting Kara, the customer contributes to an honest and heart-felt need to support the weaver and the craft.
    Our rates on the online store are a promotional offer which includes free shipping as a launch special for our brand. We tried this because it a novel attempt at going global in promoting them as bath items and home furnishings.
    I seem to have gone on and on, but I really understand your concern and feel you need to hear the whole story.
    I’m also glad you like our work, this is such an encouraging factor for our project to get showcased here!

  • wonderful products and packaged so well. looks very promising. kudos to all of you for making these available to everybody in the world. keep the good work going. all the best.

  • As someone who spent a large portion of her childhood in Kerala, I can attest that these towels are very absorbant and functional. I often bring them when travelling.

  • OK, one more question–I will post it here since others may wonder after they visit your website to order: is the towel in the top picture of this post the “full color”or the “dash”? Thanks!