Khadi is a handspun and handwoven fabric. The following issues often come up when buying this fabric:
1. It is difficult to source these yarns. As these yarns are concentrated in the unorganized sector with regard to their production and the process is immensely labor oriented.
2. Handspun yarn is of two varieties. One variety is called the original Charkha variety in which the raw cotton is drawn and twisted by hand on a charkha and wound. This quality is most difficult to find and bulk production is not possible. This is most suited for coarse counts suitable for hand spinning. The other quality is called the Amber quality, in which the yarn is twisted by hand by a process called Amber Charkha in which the input material is roving from mills. Moreover the final twisting and drawing operation is done by ring and traveler arrangement. The only difference from ring frame is that this ring and traveler is rotated with the help of a handle. Here bulk production is possible, finer counts are also possible and most of the handspun yarn is made using this process. There is this fabric called “Malkha” where the pre spinning part is done using a small scale machine developed by Vortex, however the yarn is Z twisted, as that of a milspun yarn.
3. Khadi yarn in a fabric is determined by the amount and frequency of slubs that are coming in the fabric as well as twist. The twist in a khadi yarn is by convention opposite to that found in a milspun yarn. However, this reverse twisted yarn is also now being made in mills, though surreptitiously. I myself have seen a cone of a kahdi yarn made of machine in a mill.
4. The quality of khadi yarn is not so good so as to be used in warp. The cotton used to make these yarns is of short staple quality and often quite old. It is therefore, used in weft, using handspun yarns. Attempts to get the quantities in production for handspun yarns have resulted in inordinate delays in the deliveries and numerous fabric defects.
5. The count of khadi varies sometimes as much as 10-15%, this makes it difficult to keep the GSM of the khadi consistent.
6. Khadi yarn doesn’t lend itself to be machine dyed on a continuous range. It can be cabinet dyed but the cabinets have to be modified as the diameter of lea of khadi is less than that of a normal hank yarn. Usually it is dyed by hand using vat dyes. As the cotton comes from various sources- sometimes recycled cotton is used- it might give specks in the form of foreign fibers.
7. When woven in yarn dyed form, it might give bandings as the yarn spools can be from two different sources. To avoid that, on a powerloom, Khadi is made using two shuttles.
8. Khadi white is done by bleaching the yarn using homemade furnaces. This might give yellowness to the overall fabric, which is such a characteristic color for the original khadi. However, in order to cater to the requirement of buyers who still think in an export way, it is bleached in the fabric form. However, that reduces the weight of the khadi and makes it much thinner.
9. As it is also a handloom fabrics, getting bulk production and timely deliveries are always an issue.