I got the Book Charkha working today!
The Book Charkha was designed by Mahatma Gandhi as a tool, not just for spinning cotton, but for gaining indpendance from the British Empire and the world at large.
India had been self sefficiant with cotton fields, and nature full of dyes, providing colours we didn't have in Britian. Indian cotton industry became monopolised by the British cotton mills. Britian was selling the cotton back to the Indians.
Gandhi learned to spin and he made the wheel the symbol of independence, even putting it on the Indian flag.
Gandhi spun as protest through all his political meetings, and even today, there is a tradition of spinning in Indian parliament.
The Charkha was designed as a tool for every Indian family. It is the same size and shape as a book, and was origionaly made from a cigar box. It folds away beautifully, is descrete, and easy to build. Gandhi told every family to scatter the seeds of the cotton plant in their gardens, and spin their own fibre.
If you can spin already the Charkha is quite easy to use and suprisingly fast. I love it because it continues to stand as a symbol of independence. You are meant to secure it with your knee as you sit in lotus position, (Which I can't do!) The design is made with much love. It arrives wrapped in newspaper and putting it together from the simple instructions is very special. While spinning, you can't help but feel free from the rubbish heaps of cotton we still see on the high street. See the blog 'lets clean up fashion' below.