Mimi Prober - Silk Farm to a Fashion House

Are you a spinner? Imagine you have been spinning a beautiful natural fiber yarn. You post a photo of it on your Instagram. Next, you receive a message from a fashion designer in NYC asking to know more about your handspun yarn.  
 
That’s how our story started.

From Silk Farm to Fashion House?

We are so honored to see our Eri silk yarn in Mimi Prober's Fall 2020 Ready-to-wear collection.”

 

Mimi Prober works with Eri silk makers from North East India | Muezart
The top you see is knitted with Muezart’s Eri Silk Handspun DK Yarn

Eri Silk Yarn – spun in Meghalaya, lands on New York Fashion Week 2020

Khraw from Muezart talks with Eri silk spinners from Meghalaya | Muezart

You can imagine the excitement in the Muezart Studio, in a remote corner of India when we heard that Muezart’s Eri silk yarn had been used by a fashion house in New York. Eri silk yarn produced and hand-spun by the lady farmers, a network of Muezart partners, had made its way to a fall collection of 2020. That too the fashion house under reference is of a designer who is making a name for herself by honoring artisanal techniques and the hands that create. You will read more about her in this post.

Excitement at the Muezart Studio

Muezart’s mission is to revive and regenerate a traditional industry of Eri silk in the state of Meghalaya, a state in the Northeast of India.

If this unique Eri silk yarn, supplied by Muezart, has reached a capital of the World of fashion  – New York City, then that would be like a spotlight on the lady farmers that spun the yarn. Don’t you agree? We are happy for them. They now hope to see more demand from conscious business houses like Mimi Prober’s.

From a Silk Farm to a Haute Couture Garment

You may have heard of ‘farm to fork’. You can trace the vegetable or fruit or cereal you are eating to the farm it came from. But what if you could trace the silk yarn of the apparel you are wearing to the hands that spun the yarn? And even better, the farmers who raised the fiber? And know that these artisans are a link to a heritage art of spinning, dyeing, and weaving Eri silk that can still be found in the heartland of the state of Meghalaya? What we are presenting here is a story of Silk Farm to a Fashion House.

Mimi Prober – What Makes Her Different

A piece on Mimi Prober by Vogue captures her essence:

“Prober only works with all-natural fibers; this season, she elaborated on some of them with botanical and rust dying for a bohemian vibe ……. everything on the racks has an heirloom quality. “I feel people are looking for more meaning, something that speaks to them, something that has a reasoning behind it, a story,” she states.

 

So, is it a historical narrative that Prober is spinning? The short answer is no. Though each piece comes with a story that’s calligraphed and printed on handmade, botanical dyed paper, Prober says, “It’s not about living in the past, but more appreciating again a slower way of life.”

 

For me it’s about not losing the craft, not losing the people who make the things.” - Mimi Prober

 

How did Muezart’s Eri silk yarn reach Mimi Prober? There is the story behind it.

A Conscious Designer Finds Muezart

It was in November 2019 that Ms. Prober found us through our online store. She first experienced Eri silk fiber when she purchased Muezart’s sample card.

After feeling the soft cocoon and the handspun singles a discussion started.  She ordered the DK handspun yarn.

We loved what she wrote us when she firmed up the order I do focus primarily on hand-knit, as I try to honor and preserve handcraft techniques within the collection”. See the choice of words – ‘honor and preserve’!

No wonder an article in Vogue said: The world, it seems, has finally caught up with this most conscientious, sustainable designer.”

Being conscientious in second nature to every member of the various units of our mother company Chillibreeze. Did you know that books that were taken up for reading and discussions in the past few months were ‘The Regenerative Business’ by Carol Sanford and ‘Conscious Business’ by Fred Kofman?

The Hands That Spun the Yarn That Reached a Fashion House

Most of the Eri silk yarn spinners are to be found in Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya. These women already have the tradition of silkworm rearing.

The same spinners are also rearing silkworms that produce cocoons. So many of these women raise the worms AND spin AND weave! And some dye yarn too, using natural dyes.

The women of the Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya believe that Eri silk weaving is an ancient knowledge of their ancestors. These artisans have been spinning a fine lace single yarn for centuries. The thin yarn is used in both the warp and weft to weave traditional classic Eri shawls. The DK Eri silk yarn that Mimi Prober used was nothing like this traditional lace weight single.

Women spinners from Diwon spinning with Eri silk on world wide spin in public day | MuezartThese are the hands that spin Eri silk yarn

Muezart is on a mission to raise up more Eri silkworm rearers. So, Khraw keeps distributing silkworm eggs to women who want to rear and sell cocoons to Muezart.

We prefer working directly with women. We get to know who is good at what. Who is hungry to try new things, like spinning a new weight yarn. We know every artisan we work with.

Spinners Learn to Spin DK

Till 6 months back the Eri silk spinners in our network had never spun a DK weight yarn. We knew that knitters and even weavers in the west want a heavier yarn than the typical lace weight yarn used by artisans in Meghalaya. So Khraw, a Muezart associate, started to coach the team of spinners to spin a thicker yarn. They spin on a spindle and spinning a Fingering yarn was their first attempt.  It was not easy. Many gave up. Spinning clusters were formed, and leaders selected. The next cluster learned to spin DK, which the spinners found even more challenging. But the ones who stuck it out with us are now reaping the rewards because we are buying up to 4 Kg of handspun yarn every month from each cluster. Muezart will buy as much as they can produce.

Khraw with Eri silk spinners in Diwon, Meghalaya, India  MuezartKhraw with the spinners from Diwon

This is But a Beginning

The story of the silk yarn they spun being used to knit a fashionable garment has got the spinners enthused. This one incident may or may not lead to anything more as a business. But the confidence and hope it has infused in our team and the lady silk farmers in our network is priceless.


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