Ranikhet is situated in the lap of the Himalayas. To state a fact, 10 states of India are located in the realms of this range of mighty mountains.
Mighty mountains have foot hills and rolling valleys, undulating green pastures amidst flowing streams…those lovely pictures on tourism sites prove that they exist and that they are visited, admired and remembered.
Pastures should have sheep aplenty… and sheep should have wool fibres aplenty….and wool fibres should have been made into pure wool for knitting and weaving.
There is a significant weaving industry in the Himalayas. In Almora district itself, we have this famous organisationwhich has brought back the pride of weaving local wool into quality shawls and stoles. Attempts continue to be made, to bring more and more local Himalayan wool into the commercial market in the form of soft, elegant woven products.
But where is some pure wool for hand-knitting? Ever since hand knits have been relegated to a distant point in the list of “desirable woollen products”, it is almost impossible to find pure wool knitting yarn in cities. The prominent wool makers , Vardhaman and Oswal, have a range of amazing acrylic blends for knitters.
Brilliant colours, soft textures, mothproof and stain resistant, these acrylic blends are an excellent choice for knitting hard wearing sweaters, throws and blankets.
But if a knitter wants to make something fine and fabulous, something precious and unique, something which is warm and wonderful, its pure wool which is called for.
And that knitter can keep calling out in the wilderness… and finally find just one solitary company which actually produces a range of pure wool. The outlets can be counted on the fingers of one hand…Greenways in Connaught Place, Balaji Wool in Lajpat Nagar and ….. that’s it! JP Sagar has a wholesale dealer in the dense and challenging lanes of Sadar Bazaar.
Last year, after following up a score of blind alleys,I managed to contact the charming Mr J, the wholesale dealer, who categorically informed me that I would be wasting his time if I am not ready to purchase 3 kgs of each shade.
Anything for pure wool!! We ( my daughter and me) took the Metro and reached Sadar Bazaar. It was the evening prior to Rakhi, and every two legged and four legged being was visiting Sadar Bazaar. The rickshaw dropped us at the edge of that mass of heaving humanity… and we just got propelled down the road, over a bridge, through a market selling saffron T-shirts, tea-shops and sellers-of-fruit-and-coconut-wedges, mules and mobikes…Climbed three flights of blue stairs and reached a quiet, airy, clean room with a huge verandah overlooking the city and the sky. One good cup of tea, one good hour of checking colour samples , one exhausting km of walking around to find a functional ATM and I was done!
9 kgs of pure, soft wool were mine to bring to Ranikhet. I had brought a big bag to take it all back in the Metro. Mr J hid a disdainful smile and tossed my bag away…9 kgs of wool filled up an entire auto rickshaw! I had no idea of the bulk factor of yarn, but when my daughter and me returned to Kalkaji, perched precariously on all that wool, I had learnt my lesson well.
9 kgs of wool needed a cab to reach Ranikhet…A friend was returning from Delhi in an empty cab and it became a stuffed cab when I joined him. Just explaining what would I do with a carful of wool, was enough to liven up those 10 hours of driving to the mountains!
And next time, I shall share with you….what have I been doing with a carful of wool!!